Uehiro Project 4: Psychology

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Issues Surrounding Kokoro and Changes during the Post-Growth Era


Lead Researcher
Hisae Konakawa, Program-Specific Assistant Professor


We can call our time the post-growth era, and consider it as an era in which society as a whole has experienced a period of steady growth and begun to search for ways to develop and mature that can replace overly simplistic advances. The issues that a society faces in each era and the problems that individuals have can be thought of as inseparably linked. Based on this premise, this project attempts to understand the psychological problems of each era from the perspective of clinical psychology and to propose approaches to facing these problems. Through a series of studies, while aiming to contribute to improving outcomes in terms of clinical assistance for each problem, we also hope to obtain hints on how to address the contemporary issues that our society is facing in the so-called post-growth era.

It can be said that the psyche is formed within a society. Many empirical studies have been conducted on how people’s psychological and behavioral tendencies are created in each society. In the field of clinical psychology, the following examples can be cited: the changing clinical picture of anthropophobia (taijin kyofusho), which is considered to be closely connected to Japanese culture, and the existence of new psychological problems related to the identity formation of people today, as evidenced by changes in the mentality of students who come to student counseling centers at universities. This project aims to provide some insight into the mentality of people living in contemporary Japanese society and the emerging problems of the psyche by conducting comparative research from the perspective of culture and time period.


Research Project

A. Study of the mentality of people today and the archaic layer of the psyche

In the field of clinical psychology, dreams during sleep have been considered an important way of revealing the state of the self, down to the unconscious level. In recent years, neuroscience, including research on brain injury, has also shown a link between dreaming and the brain’s default mode network, which people use to think about themselves and their relationships with others. We often forget the dreams we have every night, but there are some dreams that suddenly leave a lasting impression. Thus, we are often interested in our own dreams.

In this project, narratives about dreams are studied in terms of cultural and historical differences, as well as changes in the developmental course or processes of psychotherapy. Thus, this project aims to elucidate aspects of the mentality of people today and the psychological problems of our time.

In psychotherapy, we can find a plastic aspect of the psyche that changes with the times, and at the same time, a universal function of the psyche that does not change over time. We call the latter the “archaic layer” of psyche. In dreams during sleep, the “archaic layer” of the psyche can sometimes emerge in the form of images. Considering the psychological problems of our time, we would like to deepen our understanding of the relationship between contemporary consciousness and the “archaic layer” of the psyche.

B. Clinical and Psychological Studies on Atypical Developmental and the Psyche

In contemporary society, as the degree of freedom has increased, we rarely refer to “typical forms” or “standards”. Today, development and pathology has also become “atypical,” which results in increases of certain kinds of problems and symptoms. These manifest in various ways, including in an increasing number of cases that are considered to fall within the gray area between developmental disability and typical development. In particular, this project will explore clinical approaches to developmental disabilities and the atypical development which is often seen in contemporary society.

Recently, clinical psychologists in Japan have pointed out that changes in development or pathology, as well as in the psyche of people today, cannot be captured by conventional psychology or, in other words, at the already-known level. This project also aims to capture characteristics of the psyche today by focusing on this phenomenon of the psyche “being atypical.” In addition to meta-perspective analysis of clinical cases in psychotherapy, we will include research on SNS counseling, in response to the shifting of communication tools among younger people. This project will consider contemporary issues of the psyche and how to approach them.