Presenter:Isaac Gagné （Research Associate, WIAPS）
Presentation Theme:Anthropological Research on "Spiritual Well-Being" seen through Global Psychiatry and Japanese Religion
After three and a half years since the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake, nearly 240,000 people continue to live in temporary shelters across northeast Japan. Despite the fading media and public attention, there remain many unresolved issues in the disaster-stricken area today. As the aftermath of the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake instructs, sufficient recovery efforts require a much longer time span and demand physical as well as psychological efforts, particularly because it is usually several years after a disaster that there is an increase in the number of suicides among survivors. In the midst of these ongoing challenges in Tohoku, mental health professionals and religious professionals have begun to work together to provide psychological and spiritual care to the residents and refugees coping with loss, displacement, and post-traumatic stress disorder. In this presentation, I discuss my ongoing research on the practices of spiritual/psychological care, commonly called “心のケア”, specifically through the form of “active listening” (傾聴). First, I will explain the current conditions among refugees and the kind of issues and problems that need to be addressed in Miyagi Prefecture. Second, I will analyze some of the challenges to psychiatric care in the region, and how religious professionals are providing an alternative in the form of “心のケア”, and further how evacuees are responding. By analyzing the localization of global psychiatric practices by religious and medical professionals, this research will identify the possibilities and challenges of “spiritual/ psychological recovery efforts” and examine how such efforts can assist recovery by providing a range of both religious services and non-religious psychological care to help facilitate survivors’ well-being.