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Paul, R.A. (2011). Prohibition of Don't Look: Living Through Psychoanalysis and Culture in Japan by Osamu Kitayama Iwasaki Gakujutsu Shuppansha, Tokyo, 2010; 168 pp;. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 92(1):251-254.

(2011). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 92(1):251-254

Prohibition of Don't Look: Living Through Psychoanalysis and Culture in Japan by Osamu Kitayama Iwasaki Gakujutsu Shuppansha, Tokyo, 2010; 168 pp;

Review by:
Robert A. Paul

This volume is a collection of seven papers by Osamu Kitayama, who is a Training and Supervising Analyst in the Japan Psychoanalytic Society. Most of them reflect Dr. Kitayama's long-standing interest in exploring Japanese myth and folklore for what they reveal about specifically Japanese cultural themes that also appear in clinical work with individual Japanese patients. This enterprise is by no means as emotionally and politically uncomplicated as it may sound: during the period leading up to World War II, myth and folklore were employed by the military government to legitimize the state through the cult of the divine status of the Emperor. After the war, in reaction, the new government banned the study of myth and folklore altogether, so that during Kitayama's youth these stories were not in circulation. It was thus only after his period of study in the West, which included his realization of the extent to which psychoanalysis as an intellectual enterprise relied on a knowledge of Western myth and story, that Kitayama undertook research into his own Japanese cultural folk tradition as a way of deepening his insight into the particular nature of the Japanese psyche.

The stories that most concern Kitayama in these essays deal not — like the story of Oedipus — with a ‘three-body’ situation but rather with the ‘two-body’ pre-oedipal mother-child constellation. Winnicott, not surprisingly, thus figures as the main theorist, along with Klein, whose thought hovers in the background of these essays.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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