Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Japan: the psychology of recovery

Japan´s evacuees. NYTimes
A few days ago, my son asked me if it was crazy to go back to the place where one belonged, after a catastrophe. I told him everybody comes back, the feeling for own´s territory is so strong, it´s part of our lives. Without territoriality, we feel like nothing.
I was not mistaken in my answer, let´s read some excerpts from the great article by Benedict Carey:
¨JAPAN is in the middle of a catastrophe that transcends any talk of trauma and resilience, the easy language of armchair psychology. There is no reintegrating with friends and social networks now scattered or lost in the sea; there is no easy rebuilding of communities washed away, swallowed by the earth or bathed in radiation from ruptured nuclear plants.
Few can doubt that the country will eventually repair itself; that’s what people do, none more so than the Japanese. But some scientists say that recovering from this disaster will be even more complicated.
In dozens of studies around the world, researchers have tracked survivors’ behavior after disasters, including oil spills, civil wars, hurricanes and nuclear reactor meltdowns, as well as combined natural-technological crises, like what’s happening in Japan. One clear trend stands out: Mental distress tends to linger longer after man-made disasters, like an oil spill or radiation leak, than after purely natural ones, like a hurricane.(...) many people in Japan have begun to doubt the official version of events. “The mistrust of the government and Tepco was already there before the crisis,” said Susumu Hirakawa, a psychologist at Taisho University in Tokyo, referring to the Tokyo Electric Power Company, which owns the leaking nuclear plant. “Now people are even angrier because of the inaccurate information they’re getting.” (...)
Japanese psychologists say, is that many of their countrymen will attempt to manage their anger, grief and anxiety alone. In the older generations especially, people tend to be very reluctant to admit to mental and emotional problems, even to friends; they’re far more likely to describe physical symptoms, like headaches or fatigue, that arise from underlying depression or anxiety.
Not that medicine can repair the deepest losses. The quake, tsunami and radiation have destroyed or defiled what may be the islands’ most precious commodity, land, dealing a psychological blow that for many will be existentially disorienting.

Helping each other in Japan. NYTimes
Iwate prefecture. NYTimes
Milk not delivered. NYTimes
Prayers in Japan. NYTimes

“In rural communities especially, there’s a very strong feeling that the land belongs to you and you belong to it,” said Kai Erikson, a sociologist at Yale who studied mining towns of the Buffalo Creek hollow in West Virginia, where more than a dozen towns were destroyed and at least 118 people killed when a dam burst in 1972, unleashing a wall of water as high as 30 feet that swept down the hollow. “And if you lose that, you’re not just dislocated physically, but you start to lose a sense of who you are.”
Rikuzentakata, Japan. NYTimes
A shelter in Japan. NYTimes
Read the full article:

No comments:

Post a Comment


Related Posts with Thumbnails