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One person in 100 suffers from hidden mental illness, says magazine

23 Comments
By Michael Hoffman

“I’d come home from school to find mother sobbing," says an eight-year-old. Those were good days. Bad days were “father struggling to keep mother from running naked and screaming into the street.”

Schizophrenia can do that to you. Are you schizophrenic? The question seems impertinent. But you never know. It creeps up on you, and many in fact don’t know. One person in 100, says Spa (Aug 1), is affected. 

What is schizophrenia?  The U.S. National Institute of Mental Health defines three major symptoms: hallucinations (“when a person sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels things that are not actually there”); delusions (“when a person has strong beliefs that are not true and may seem irrational to others”); and thought disorder (“when a person has ways of thinking that are unusual or illogical”).

Its cause is unknown, its cure undiscovered, its treatment – drugs and counseling –  palliative, not curative.

“Ayuna Kobayashi” (all names in this story are pseudonyms) at 32 looks back on childhood with a schizophrenic mother. “I thought she was possessed by the devil,” she  tells Spa. “I was afraid; I used to hide in the closet.”

She dreaded the neighbors thinking her mother was weird. She herself evidently thought her mother was weird – not ill. Of the father we are told only that he was “busy with work.” One wonders why the family didn’t seek treatment. One obstacle was the mother’s refusal to even consider it. Treatment for what? She didn’t think herself ill. It wasn’t her, it was the world that needed treatment. If wrong about herself, she may have been not altogether so about the world.

 Entering her teens, Ayuna switched to night school to help out at home. With a high school diploma she went on to nursing school – and there encountered a group formed by and for families of victims of mental illness. “It was the first time I ever spoke to anyone about it,” she says. Treatment followed, and her mother at 60 is now relatively stable. Can it last? There’s no knowing. Another fear haunts Ayuna: “Will it happen to me too?”

“Kenichi Mori,” 37, copes with a schizophrenic wife. She’d draw curtains over all the windows – so she couldn’t be “watched” from outside. She’d run music full blast – to block outside “noise.” She slipped out of the house one night and sent her husband an email: “I’m going to die.” He called the police. Two hours later she came home, still on her feet but with her wrist cut.

Their small daughter was sent to live with grandparents. Ten years passed. Treatment helped. She grew calm, resumed her normal life. They thought the worst was behind them. Lately, suddenly, the symptoms returned. Mori holds his breath.

“Looking back,” says “Reiko Suzuki,” 55, “I should have seen it when he was in junior high school” – seen something at least, or attached more significance than she did to changes in her son’s behavior. Before he’d been bright, outgoing, popular, and when his grades started slipping she thought he was simply being lazy. He turned inward, began saying strange things; didn’t object, apparently, to a psychiatric examination followed by a recommendation that he be hospitalized for further tests.

The tests produced the dreaded diagnosis: schizophrenia. Stabilized by treatment, he made it through high school and, at 21, had recovered sufficiently to enter college. Things were looking up. He got a part-time job, moved into his own apartment, resumed his social life – but the optimism all this generated was premature. He relapsed, dropped out – and now attends vocational school. The life he’ll lead will be different from the one his childhood had led him and his mother to expect, but if that’s the worst of it perhaps it’s not so bad after all.

All this begs the question: what is “reality” and who sees it? Maybe no one does and all that separates the schizophrenic mind from the “normal” mind is the different nature of the perceived unreality. “Normal” unreality, granted, is easier to live with.

© Japan Today

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

23 Comments
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I agree with those posting that the 1% figure seems too low. Perhaps that figure refers to those who are so ill that they have to be institutionalized, as opposed to those who are roaming the streets?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have the impression that 1% is an optimistic figure. I'm afraid that there many more people with mental health problems here in Japan and other countries. It is a growing issue that must be carefully taken as a priority by all public and private organizations.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I feel things crawling all over my hands, but I just tell them it is ok as long as they do not bight, and so far so good.

I sleep well and happy as a clam always rain or shine.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

And I a psychiatrist say 20 people in 100 have some kind of mental illness. And they are increasing at an alarming speed.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Growing up I remember some friends' mothers coming down with schizophrenia, which is consistent with the observation that among women it usually shows up in the late 20s or early 30s. In every case the women were institutionalized. Perhaps today there is better treatment.

It is hard to watch a person transition from being a "normal" human being, to being someone who cannot function in daily life. "There but for the grace of God go I."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Bill Lewis has it right: depression afflicts far more people and, as dagon points out, the socio-economic model of right-wing capitalism can answer for many of the stresses that weigh on the millions who work just to exist. At the same time we mortals must face up to the brevity of life, our final inescapable animal fate and the anxiety experienced by all human beings.

Ernest Becker's "The Denial of Death", my vade mecum since my youth, explains our human dilemma and the mental toll of creaturely existence.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Only 1 in 100, I find that difficult to believe. There are some countries where it is more like 30 in 100. or maybe even more.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And Im sure the rates keep growing

0 ( +0 / -0 )

American experts say people with NPD only take up as much as 30% of population what to say about other illnesses and if you say NPD is not actually an illness then i dont know what it is.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I have said many years ago here that mental health was something the world ignores but finally the world is starting to realize they have ignored a monster illness that will never go away.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

No,it's really SPA!

Comparable to getting your information from The Weekly World News.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Roy

thank you but I would have to question the qualifications of Spa.

"The long-hovered Weekly Sankei renovated itself as Weekly SPA! this year. The dramatic change from traditional newspaper magazine to visual subculture magazine achieved significant success, making SPA! one of the most popular magazines among young readers."

Same owners as JT?

https://www.newsweek.com/spa-magazine-japanese-universities-japan-metoo-movement-kazuna-yakomoto-1283510

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I have read the article twice but I do not see the name of the mag. Anyone?

4 ( +4 / -0 )

From this I conclude that 99% of the people around me.

OR .... I alone am out of step, but in fact there are healthy people around me, and the schizophrenic is me.

OR - The US National Institute of Mental Health doesn't know a damn thing about people, confusing reality with the perception of this reality

OR you read a blurb on the internet, and thought you knew enough to comment on it without realizing there were more ORs that hadn't considered, because your only studying is reading an article on the internet.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

The US National Institute of Mental Health defines three main symptoms that indicate schizophrenia:

hallucinations - "when a person sees, hears, smells, tastes or feels things that are not really there";

delirium - "when a person has strong beliefs that are not true and may seem irrational to others";

thinking disorder - "when a person has ways of thinking that are unusual or illogical."

From this I conclude that 99% of the people around me.

OR .... I alone am out of step, but in fact there are healthy people around me, and the schizophrenic is me.

OR - The US National Institute of Mental Health doesn't know a damn thing about people, confusing reality with the perception of this reality

3 ( +5 / -2 )

JT is on a roll today with its deceptional and misleading headlines/articles. While schizophrenia in and of itself may account for 1 in 100 (I don't know, but I'll give JT a pass on that), mental illness as a general subject affects far more people. Depression can be devastating. I suffer from a slight form of depression, and it has taken me years of counseling and medication to a point where I don't wake up every morning wishing that I hadn't. And like I said, mine is only slight depression. Much more needs to be done for mental illness in Japan, and not just the extremes of schizophrenia.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

We have to consider the implication that our normal consciousness is not really all it is believed to be and may be false and dysfunctional too. This is not a particularly new idea but it is one we fail to consider as we blunder on witlessly consuming everything in our path. And we call it good.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

“Normal” unreality, granted, is easier to live with.

When the reality that these people are swimming in is late stage neo-liberal capitalism it is often the case.

The stark reality is beyond mindset and neurochemistry many of the real world consequences of mental illness from substance abuse to suicide derive from the inability to deal with the circumstances of work, money and the expenses of existence. This study goes into the facts.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8145185/

It is better to be rich and dissatisfied and mentally disturbed than to be poor and mentally disturbed.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Yes. Mental illness even affects those who are supposed to be able to cure it - the psychiatrists. There was the case of the psych who cut a guy's head off in Sapporo recently.

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

One person in 100 suffers from hidden mental illness, says magazine

In Japan the number should more than that, especially many people pretend in Japan. So they are being undiagnosed.

-3 ( +6 / -9 )

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