Jungianism. A vague relationship to Buddhism

Jungianism is synonymous with analytical psychology, also called Jungian analysis. Jungianism is named after Swiss psychologist and psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, his theories and clinical principles.

The figure shows the course of Jungianism and its author Carl Jung

Kawai Hayao thus has an open, “vague” relationship to Jungianism and Buddhism (“Aimai na bukkybto de aru.” Kawai 1995: 62). He considers the advantage of Jungianism to be its flexibility, and Buddhism to be frankly open: “There is neither first nor last; neither beginning nor end. Buddhism shows the world as it is, invariable. No real change occurs.” The type of psychotherapy he has led for 30 years is close to the juji bon, a sutra that illustrates the 10 steps to becoming a bodhisattva (Kawai 1995: 96-99). In his reflections, he alternates between Jungianism and Buddhism. He insists that Buddhism can heal the sufferings of the modern self (Kawai 1995: 57), but he also feels that Jungianism can also heal (Kawai 1995: 58). He says he has no problem in calling himself Jungian and Buddhist, but he is not a member of any Buddhist school because that would require him to choose, follow a doctrine, and practice rituals (Kawai 1995: 61). He suggests that the Jungians are Buddhists without a school, without ritual, and without doctrine, but who share the essence of Buddhism. Indeed, he argues these two approaches’ essence is neither in their schools, nor rituals, nor in their doctrines ... but in the concept of heart/mind (kokord).

Translating the title for Chapter Three of Kawai’s work poses difficulties because of the use of the term watashi. The most accurate translation of this Japanese word is “what I am.” Nevertheless, if we consider the use made by the author, it is possible to translate it as “I,” which is also its usual translation when associated with w or ga, for example. Chapter Three is, therefore, entitled “‘Watashi’ towa nanika,” ‘What is the ‘I’?” It is translated into English in the original text as “What is ‘I’?” This question is crucial for the author, unlike “Who am I?” (Watashi wa dare kd) whose answer would be, according to him, simpler. As he notes: “When you start thinking about ‘I’, the more you think about it, the more incomprehensible it becomes” (“Shikashi, honto no tokoro wa, ‘watashi’ to iu no wa kangaereba kangaeru-hodo wakaranai sonzai desu.” Kawai 1995: 121).

Kawai Hayao is interested in C. G. Jung and his developments in psychotherapy. This goes through an affirmation: “I am Kannon.” Kawai (1995: 119) testifies to the influence of Jodo shinshü Buddhism in his practice when he takes up a story of Shinran Shónin, the founder of this school, where Kannon appears to him in a dream. Kawai’s (1995: 176) interpretation of Shinran Shónin’s dream leads him to claim that patients project Bodhisattva Kannon onto the therapist, who, consciously or not, tries to play this role. Also, he suggests there is equivalence between symptoms and koan, paradoxical puzzles, and anecdotes used in the Rinzai school of Zen to evoke the limits of certain kinds of reasoning: “Concerning Zen, I have no experience of sanzen (interviews with a Zen master), and I have not read many books on the subject. But I had many opportunities to listen to acquaintances who had this experience. These were direct words, I had the answers to my questions without embarrassment, and I think I learned a lot. Listening to these stories, I felt that my work as a psychotherapist is, in a way, similar to Zen.” Let us remember that, while Buddhists in the Zen School can relate to those of Jodo Shinshü, they are two distinct schools (the Zen School itself is divided into several schools). Both schools have been separated for centuries, and their practices, rituals, and doctrines differ. However, their common Buddhist background allows Kawai to invoke disparate elements such as the Kannon therapist (from the founder of the Jodo shinshü school, Shinran Shónin), and interpretation in the form of koan (from the Zen school) for the purpose of socially withdrawn youths’ treatment: “Instead of preaching to these apathetic young people the meaning of work and the value of social activity, we strive to find the koan together.” (Kawai 1995: 197-198). From this point of view, his approach is undoubtedly beneficial for patients who suffer from being labeled lazy and idle and summoned to work and contribute to society. This practice elaborated with reference to a Buddho-Jungian background has had, without a doubt, effects on the individuals who met this therapist. Nevertheless, this is a practice manipulating suggestion and calling on religious elements within it, via the protocol (e.g., the therapy envisaged from the juji-bon sutra); psychotherapy (similar to Zen); and interpretations (e.g., “your daughter-in-law is Zenkoji’s cow”).

When considering Kawai Hayao’s contributions, we will see later that he helped to establish clinical psychology in Japan. In particular, despite all of the criticism that could be addressed toward him, one must acknowledge his contribution to the establishment of a vast system of school counselors: school counselors were only present in 154 establishments in 1995, whereas by 2006, there were 10,058. Kawai Hayao played a key role in starting measures for students with special needs and their families, making the presence of a school counselor mandatory in each junior high school from 2004 onward (Ingrams 2005). In 2002, Prime Minister Koizumi Junichiro designated Kawai Hayao as head of cultural affairs, a rare position for a psychologist to attain. A charismatic figure, as much hated as he was adored, mentioning his work was inescapable in some circles and taboo in others. He supported the cultural reconstruction of Iraq desired by George W. Bush but also resonated with more liberal figures. He was considered the one and only confidant of the writer Murakami Haruki. The best selling author paid tribute to him in 2008: “When I talked using the word ‘stories,’ it was only Kawai-sensei who could correctly understand that meaning [...] Stories are very beneficial but very dangerous at the same time. Kawai-sensei really understood this. He was not a mere researcher. He had the excellence of a man who crosses a battlefield because he actually examined patients” (Koyama 2008). My research could not avoid the importance of this character who has marked the history of Japanese clinical psychology. It remains to be seen in more detail the exact role played by Kawai Hayao in setting up the clinical psychologists’ certification system, and their hiring through the school counselor system. How was the decision to create the school counseling system made, while Kawai Hayao was in the Ministry of Education “in charge of cultural affairs”? If the latter has played a role, it remains to describe all the dynamics of the actors who allowed the spread of the school counselor system, at the national level and in each prefecture. It remains to be seen, by an in-depth study, who were the actors who led to the birth of Japanese clinical psychology by attributing to Kawai Hayao his rightful place, without idealizing him and without silencing his name, as is often the case.

Before providing the details of my interviews with clinical practitioners in the next chapter, it is necessary to describe what a Japanese junior high school is, and how teachers work there. In conducting my research, I would try to find out if the school counselor was performing duties that were formerly assigned to teachers, and whether he or she was assuming new functions specific to his specialization in clinical psychology. I would also examine the emergence of school absenteeism as a matter of concern, as students in this situation are the ones that the school counselor had to deal with.

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