香山リカのココロの万華鏡:距離感つかめる人選び /東京

December 09, 2012(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Not too far, not too close
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:距離感つかめる人選び /東京

Recently when I phoned my mother in Hokkaido, she told me, "It's cold this year, and it's snowing early." Blizzards caused a major blackout, and some people apparently had to endure the cold at night without heating. She went on, "Just getting to the neighborhood convenience store is difficult."

Nature's fury can quickly develop into a life-or-death situation.

However, when we're in Tokyo watching the news about Hokkaido, the severity of the situation doesn't really hit home. If my mother weren't in Hokkaido, I might just say, "Hmm, that looks tough for them," and have little other interest in the issue.

To put it another way, it's very difficult for us to sympathize over and comprehend things that aren't directly related to us. Even if we're not deliberately adopting a cold attitude and saying, "Well that's their problem," somewhere inside of us, we're shutting out the things beyond us, thinking, "It's got nothing to do with me."

This, we can say, is something we have learned to do to protect ourselves: If every time there was a disaster, conflict or accident in a faraway country we were to put ourselves in others' shoes and think "What if that was me?" "How are these people feeling?" then we wouldn't be able to cope with it all. By distancing ourselves a certain degree from the things that aren't directly related to us and telling ourselves, "That doesn't really affect me," we can feel a bit at ease.

But just how much distance should we place between ourselves and such issues? Or how far should we go in thinking, "I wonder how these people are feeling?" Each of us has to consider that balance and decide for ourselves. In my consultation rooms, I'm always thinking about such a balance when I see my patients. I can't get too close and find myself getting upset, but then again, neither can I distance myself too much and end up failing to understand my patients.

I wonder what the case is in the House of Representatives election, whose campaigning started on Nov. 4. How far are the various candidates going in distancing themselves from voters? It wouldn't be any good for them to fail to retain any measure of distance between individuals and become too emotional. But at the same time, it's no good having them look down on others from on high all the time, either. As I look at each of the candidates from various political parties, I'm searching for someone who maintains a fine balance in the distances they keep.

I'm not going to state here whether it looks like I'll find a candidate who fits that description, but I think everyone can agree with me when I say finding someone with that sense of balance is no easy task.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2012年12月04日 地方版

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