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    FULL TEXT (全文ー英語のみ)

    The Japanese Concept of Interdependency

    American Journal of Psychiatry, 151:4, 628-629; 1994.

    To the Editor: In a recent book review (1), Rebecca Z. Solomon, M.D., stated the "Japanese concept of Doi, for which there is no equivalent in any other language, expresses the modulation of demandingness by appreciation of the condition of the one on whom the demand is made." The correct name of this concept is amae. Doi is not a concept but the name of the Japanese psychiatrist, Takeo Doi, who popularized the concept of amae (2).

    Amae may be described as a mutual dependency (including that between adult and child) where the assurance of another's goodwill permits a certain degree of self-indulgence. A Western concept that Doi felt was equivalent to amae is that of "passive object love" described by Michael Balint (3).

    The concept of amae is felt by some to be a key toward understanding the whole of Japanese society and to resolve the apparent contradictions seen there. John Bester, in his foreword to Doi's book, wrote, "Only a mentality rooted in amae could produce a people so unrealistic yet so clearsighted as to the basic human condition; so compassionate and so self-centered; so spiritual and so materialistic; so forbearing and so willful; so dicile and so violent."

    Perhaps a quote from Doi's own experience when first visiting America will highlight the concept of amae:

    I visited a house of someone to whom I had been introduced by a Japanese acquaintance, and was talking to him whin he asked me, "Are you hungry? We have some ice cream if you'd like it." As I remember, I was rather hungry, but finding myself asked point-blank if I was hungry by someone whom I was visiting for the first time, I could not bring myself to admit it, and ended by denying the suggestion. I probably cherished a mild hope that he would press me again; but my host, disappointingly said "I see" with no further ado, leaving me regretting that I had not replied more honestly. And I found myself thinking that a Japanese would almost never ask a stranger unceremoniously if he was hungry, but would produce something to give him without asking.

    We suppose that cultural differences in amae lead to many misunderstandings in one of the world's most important economic and political international relationships.


    1. Solomon RZ: Book review, JO Wisdom: Freud, Woman, and Society. Am J Psychiatry 1993; 150:828
    2. Doi T: The Anatomy of Dependence. Tokyo, Kodansha Int, 1973
    3. Balint M: Primary Love and Psychoanalytic Technique. New York, Liveright, 1965





    Tokyo, Japan

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