香山リカのココロの万華鏡:利己的なおとなたちへ /東京

August 16, 2015 (Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: Learning not to jump to generalizations
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:利己的なおとなたちへ /東京

Twitter has become a tool even among politicians to express their opinions. A tweet recently posted by a House of Representatives lawmaker from the ruling Liberal Democratic Party has stirred controversy. He wrote that claims made by students protesting against the government-sponsored security-related bills are "based on their self-centered and extremely egoistic thinking that they don't want to go to war," and he went on to say that it was "very regrettable."

After learning about this incident, I thought to myself that this politician could only understand war as a general, abstract concept. A war in reality is not "a battle between right and wrong." Those who fight in the front are young people with different personalities and dreams. Behind those youths, furthermore, are their families and lovers. If a young man dies in a battle, people around him will also face drastic changes in their lives.

Though it is different from the topic of war, I always think about the effects of generalizations. It is easy to say, "depression is on the rise because people have become weaker," and speak in generalities, but each patient is in a different situation, faced with different problems.

Suppose there is a man who is a breadwinner in a family and he goes to see a doctor after developing depression. The doctor tells him, "Generally speaking, if the cause of depression is work-related stress, a person would not feel better unless the burden placed on them is released." What if he quits his job after seeing the doctor? There will be a significant impact on his family -- they may have to sell their house, the children may have to transfer to different schools, the daughter's wedding may be called off, and ultimately this could lead to the parents' divorce. People's lives may be ruined by a casual suggestion by a doctor.

I can't always pay attention to the details of every single patient I see, but I tell myself at my clinic, "I should not just give out general opinions. I have to pay attention to individual situations."

At Rikkyo University in Tokyo, where I currently work as a professor, a committee of faculty and staff members of the university released a statement against the controversial security-related bills with nearly 1,000 people signing to support the movement. In the statement, there is the following passage:

"War is not an abstract idea. It means young people with names face each other on the battlefield and kill each other."

Today, teens and people in their 20s are not seeing war as something in the past or some generalities, but rather as something real, which they themselves may be dragged into.

For adults who can only consider young people's desire of not wanting to go to war as "selfish" and "egoistical," I recommend reading diaries, or even one memo, written by student soldiers who perished in the Pacific War and think about the lives of those who died.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2015年08月11日 地方版

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