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Research on Negative Emotions: from Vengeful Spirits to Jealousy
(Negative Emotions Research Domain)

Project Leader
Toji Kamata, Ph.D., Professor, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University

Collaborative Research Affiliates
Takanori Oishi, M.Sc., Program-specific Researcher, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University (Ecological Anthropology)
Toshihiko Hasegawa, MD, Professor, Nippon Medical School (Medical Anthropology)

Collaborative Project Researchers
Haruka Okui, M.A., Graduate School Student, Kyoto University (Somatics and Theory of the Body and History of modern Thought)
Seika Wazaki, M.Sc. (Human and Environmental Studies), JSPS Postdoctoral Research Fellow (Cultural Anthropology)

Collaborators from the Kokoro Research Center
Chihiro Hatanaka, M.Ed. (Pedagogy), Program-specific Researcher, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University (Clinical Psychology)
Megumi Kondo, Ph.D. (Human and Environmental Studies), Program-specific Researcher, Kokoro Research Center, Kyoto University (Terminal Care)

Negative emotions have an especially strong effect within the workings of human kokoro (mind and consciousness). Negative emotions include, for example, anger, hatred, resentment, and envy. It is not easy to control these feelings that strongly motivate asocial behavior such as violence. In this research, we will approach the issue by strategically combining four research methods: field studies, literature studies, experimental studies, and clinical research. We shall survey and analyze participant observations of contemporary societies, as well as interpret literature from various periods taking into account the complementary relationships of negative feelings with positive feelings, and the commutative nature of positive feelings. Specifically, we shall undertake an empirical reexamination of jealousy and its relationship to magical and religious practices in hunting and gathering and nomadic societies, regarding which almost no reports have been published. First we shall targeting hunting and gathering Pygmies of Central Africa and nomadic peoples of central Asia to compare jealousy there with that of more complex societies like modern-day Japan. The hypotheses derived from these studies will form the basis for a critical review and reinterpretation of literature relating to folkloric and historic case studies of vengeful spirits, curses, grudges, and revenge in the societies of Northeast Asia since the introduction of agriculture.

We will apply the perspectives obtained therein to the expression of negative emotions symbolized in literature, music, drama, dance and other art forms (e.g. Tale of Genji, Tale of the Heike, Zeami’s Fukushiki Mugen-Noh and literary works of Natsume Soseki, Endo Shusaku, Oe Kenzaburo, and other writers) to elucidate the roles of art in overcoming negative emotions.

We will carry out clinical research and experimental studies in the expression of anger, specifically the angry faces of Buddhist statuary, cultural differences in facial expression of anger, social psychology of aggression on the Internet, as well as psychiatric medicine and clinical psychology. We will also undertake research on techniques for controlling negative emotions, taking into account basic research in the literature, experiments, and clinical studies, in order to link that basic research to applied research.