Advance and Harmony: Introduction of the Japan Psychoanalytic Society


A brief history of the psychoanalytic movement in Japan
Authentic clinical practice of psychoanalysis began in Japan when Heisaku Kosawa went to Austria to train at the Vienna Psychoanalytic Institute in 1932. After returning to Japan in 1933, Kosawa started a private practice in psychoanalysis in Tokyo. About twenty years later, in October 1955, during the period of confusion in the wake of Japan’s defeat in WWII, Kosawa disbanded the Tokyo and Sendai Branches of the International Psychoanalytical Association, both of which had existed by permission of Freud and the IPA, and integrated them into the Japan Psychoanalytic Society, or JPS, which is the Japan Branch of the International Psychoanalytical Association. 

62 years have passed since the JPS were established, and approximately 85 years since the Japanese Component Society of the IPA was formed. Around the same period, Kosawa also set up the Japan Psychoanalytical Association (JPA), which is involved in the practice and research of psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and whose aims were to make clinical psychoanalysis more widely available to the general public. The JPA’s dominant leaders and a majority of past JPA Presidents are members of the JPS.

The Japan Psychoanalytic Society 
The JPS plays a central role in Japan’s psychoanalysis movement. The Society is comprised of 17 full members, 13 associate members, 3 honorary members, and 26 candidates.To train and develop psychoanalysts, the JPS takes the form of a one-society, two-institute system, operating two psychoanalytic institutes in Tokyo and Fukuoka. Its system of fostering psychoanalysts is well established. During the past nine years, five candidates have become associate members, and five associate members are now full members. 

The JPS publishes two bulletins. One is an English edition, entitled Japanese Contributions to Psychoanalysis, and the other is a Japanese language edition, entitled Annals of the Japan Psychoanalytic Society. Most JPS members are psychiatrists. Approximately 40% are, or were, university professors. Many of the remaining members have either opened their own psychiatric facilities or work there. Looking at this situation from a different perspective, we can say that few psychoanalysts in Japan are engaged in psychoanalytic practice, full-time. 

A meeting of the JPS Board Members

Activities and practice of the JPS

1. The current status of the JPS organization
Today, the mainstream school of psychoanalysis within the JPS is the British object relations theory which includes Kleinian psychoanalysis.  Incidentally, after around 1990, psychoanalysis in Japan as a whole became linked with the developments within the JPS. It shifted dramatically from approaches centered on ego psychology of the US to those that focused on British object relations theory, a trend that is still seen today. The achievements of Klein, Winnicott, and Bion came to be widely known and valued by our country’s psychoanalysis-oriented clinical practitioners. 

The JPS also has a certain proportion of members who have studied at the Menninger Clinic in the US, and who are members of the American Psychoanalytic Association. Among those psychoanalysts, some uphold ego psychology, self-psychology, and relational psychoanalysis. And, not surprisingly, there are psychoanalysts who have never trained at overseas psychoanalytic institutes, and have completed their training only in Japan. The proportion of such psychoanalysts is gradually increasing, and will most likely form a major force within the JPS. 

As can be seen, the members have diverse academic backgrounds. Yet, when it comes to operating the JPS, they work closely together, and, apart from lively discussions at scientific meetings, they help to create a harmonious environment within the Society, free of serious conflicts or hostility. This also holds true for each of the institutes in Tokyo and Fukuoka. Here, the traditional mindset of the Japanese people, of essentially cherishing and respecting harmony, rather than stressing and asserting differences, may underlie the group dynamics of the JPS. Although more than 60 years have elapsed since its establishment, the JPS has never faced a serious crisis which threatened a split in the organization. 

2. Academic accomplishments unique to Japan 
An internationally known academic contribution from Japan is the concept of “amae” that was advocated by the late Takeo Doi. Doi took note of an infant’s attachment to its mother involving dependence, as distinct from libidinal drive and emotion, and set forth “amae,” an everyday Japanese word, as the conceptualization of the core emotion within the mother-infant dependency relationship. 

It is the subject of interest on the part of numerous psychoanalysts, including Kiyoshi Ogura, the past JPS President. Amae is also being studied from an object relations-based perspective by Osamu Kitayama and Naoki Fujiyama, among others. 

Secondly, the Ajase complex is a concept which was first advocated by JPS founder Heisaku Kosawa. The major themes of the Ajase complex are a feeling of guilt that arises from the hatred and rancor that an infant directs toward its mother, and the mother’s forgiveness. 

The Ajase complex was based on the story of Prince Ajase, which appears in India’s ancient Buddhist scriptures. Kosawa wrote a paper on this theme, and handed it directly to Freud in 1932 while studying in Vienna. In those days, in parallel with Melanie Klein, Kosawa had already taken note of the importance of the mother-infant dyadic relationship in mental development. 

Keigo Okonogi succeeded Kosawa and began exploring the contemporary meaning of the Ajase complex in the 1980s. Okonogi allied this with a uniquely Japanese mindset which took into account the conflicts surrounding rancor and aggression.

Thirdly, there is Osamu Kitayama’s “Prohibition of don’t look” concept. Kitayama has already published the fruits of his research at international academic meetings, and in 2010 published Prohibition of Don’t Look in English. “The prohibition of don’t look” is presented as a concept that meditates an infant’s conflict of separation from its mother, as well as the infant’s sudden sense of loss and disillusionment of the mother as an idealized object. Here, emphasis is placed on the relationship between analytical techniques and historical facts that were used, in Japan’s traditional culture, in the course of accepting the mother as a whole object.
What is clear from presentation of these three concepts that characterize Japan’s unique academic contributions from the start, is the emphasis on the dyadic relationship between mother and infant, rather than the Oedipal triadic relationship. It is the dyadic relationship which is more traditionally represented in Japanese culture.

Today, an increasing number of JPS members have been publishing books and papers in recent years, based on their own psychoanalytic practice, that are attracting highly complimentary reviews in Japan. 

Books written or translated by JPS members in 2015 and 2016

3. International activities
Up to the 20th century, psychoanalysis in Japan, while continuing to engage in unique clinical practices and research based on psychoanalytic psychotherapy, concentrated its efforts on absorbing and digesting innovative psychoanalysis coming out of the US, the UK and other countries. 
Starting with the publication in 2004 of Japanese Contributions to Psychoanalysis, however, the JPS has been more actively sending out messages and information to other countries.

At the 49th IPA Boston Congress in 2015, a total of six members and candidates took part in Panel Presentations, with one member giving an Individual Paper presentation. Chronicling the History of Japan Psychoanalytic Society, a video produced in 2016 to relate the history and the current status of JPS, is being offered to numerous viewers through the IPA website as well as via Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing (PEP). Kitayama has given lectures in Germany and India, and published an article entitled “Fighting ‘ghosts’” in the Psychoanalysis Today e-journal.
Active exchanges are also taking place with overseas psychoanalysts. We recently held seminars hosting, for example, Mrs. Inge Wise, Prof. Jan Abram, and Dr. Ronald Britton of the British Society, as well as Dr. Jean-Michel Quinodoz of the Swiss Society. 
Other events included a special lecture at the 2016 JPS Annual Meeting by Professor Do-Un Jeong, the Korean Psychoanalytic Study Group; the Japan-Korean Psychoanalytic Conference 2016, held around the same period; and the Indo-Japanese Psychoanalytic Conference in January 2017 in Delhi, India. 

The future of psychoanalysis in Japan
Since more than 100 years ago, intellectuals in Japan have held an interest in psychoanalysis. This is symbolized by the fact that Takeo Doi’s Anatomy of Amae became a national best-seller during the 1970s, and that sections of Naoki Fujiyama’s Psychoanalysis in the World of Rakugo were excerpted for use in the entrance examinations to the University of Tokyo and other universities in 2013.

Until now, as a country in Asia, Japan has carried out psychoanalysis that has a unique tradition. It has steadily grown and developed over the years. On the other hand, psychoanalysis is facing contemporary difficulties: there is a strong demand from society at large to provide scientific evidence of effectiveness, and achieve therapeutic goals as rapidly as possible. 

We are still in the midst of a psychoanalytic movement which, although difficult, never stops. We will continue to make progress, placing the Japan Psychoanalytic Society at the center of our vision.