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  4. Depression and hikikomori in Japan: A mixed-methods study of cultural representations

【平成30年度 一般公募プロジェクト】Depression and hikikomori in Japan: A mixed-methods study of cultural representations

Depression and hikikomori in Japan: A mixed-methods study of cultural representations

Andrew G. Ryder Department of Psychology, Concordia University Associate Professor

内田由紀子 京都大学こころの未来研究センター 准教授
畑中千紘 京都大学こころの未来研究センター 特定講師

In 2015, I had the honour of being invited to the Kokoro Center to give a presentation about cultural-clinical psychology, in the context of social anxiety. I was struck by how rich the center was in both of these sub-fields of psychology; the major theme of my own career has been trying to think through how best to integrate them. Since that time, I have wanted to deepen my connection with the center: the overarching goal of the proposed project is to do so, building a link to both the cultural psychologists and the clinical psychologists, and to find ways for us all to work together.
The purpose of the proposed project is twofold: (1) theoretically, to spend time in sustained engagement with Japanese cultural psychology and clinical psychology, particularly where these sub-fields intersect; and (2) empirically, to carry out a mixed-methods research project on media representations of mental illness in Japan, emphasizing depression and hikikomori. The first purpose will be pursued largely through study and discussion, including two trips to Japan, and also through a proposed small group meeting involving several colleagues who work in the Kansai region. The second purpose will be pursued through a ‘cultural product’ study of Japanese newspaper articles on the topics of depression and hikikomori, complemented with a qualitative discourse analysis study of these same texts. A parallel study (separate from this proposal) will take place at the same time, involving North American newspaper articles on depression and social isolation.

Japanese newspaper search engines will be used to identify articles published in major newspapers over the previous five years. In line with similar ‘cultural product’ studies, random selection will be used to reduce the set of articles to approximately 200 (100 for depression, 100 for hikikomori). For the quantitative component, these articles will be coded according to (a) the emotional valence with which the problem is discussed, (b) the perceived cause/etiology, according to Haslam’s modified system (i.e., moral, medical, psychological, social), (c) symptoms mentioned, using a system I previously developed for coding clinical interviews, and (d) any treatments discussed, again classified according to Haslam’s system. For discourse analysis, notes will be taken on each article during the quantitative coding phase and initial impressions will Continued on next page…
be shared with the research team during my second visit. Formal discourse analysis will then characterize key themes of how depression and hikikomori are represented in Japan.

As much of this research is exploratory, we do not have clear expected results within the Japanese context. Based on previous research, however, we do have some specific hypotheses about how our results would compare with the North American data we are also collecting. Specifically, we expect that Japanese newspapers will be more likely to discuss social etiology and social interventions, less likely to discuss psychological etiology and psychological interventions, more likely to discuss interpersonal and somatic symptoms, and less likely to discuss cognitive symptoms. These hypotheses will be tested using the quantitative codes, with the groups being compared using Pearson’s chi-square test.