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The term taijin kyofusho literally means the disorder (sho) of fear (kyofu) of interpersonal relations (taijin). Dr. Morita Masatake (also known as Morita Shoma) described the condition as vicious cycle of self examination and reproach which can occur in people of hypochondriacal temperament.
In the West, taijin kyofusho is usually described as a form of social anxiety (social phobia), with the sufferer dreading and avoiding social contact. However, instead of a fear of embarrassing themselves or being harshly judged by others because of their social ineptness (as in cases in the Western world), sufferers of taijin kyofusho report a fear of offending or harming other people. The focus is thus on avoiding harm to others rather than to oneself.
In the official Japanese diagnostic system, taijin kyofusho is subdivided into the following categories:
- Sekimen-kyofu, the phobia of blushing
- Shubo-kyofu, the phobia of a deformed body, similar to Body dysmorphic disorder
- Jikoshisen-kyofu, the phobia of eye contact
- Jikoshu-kyofu, the phobia of having foul body odor. See Olfactory Reference Syndrome
Since it is not prevalent in American culture, taijin kyofusho is not detailed in the DSM IV. This is under debate, however, as symptoms indicative of taijin kyofusho are sometimes found in patients in the United States. 1234567
The standard Japanese treatment for taijin kyofusho is Morita therapy, developed by Dr. Morita Masatake in the 1910s as a treatment for the Japanese mental disorders taijin kyofusho and shinkeishitsu (nervousness). The original regimen involved patient isolation, enforced bed rest, diary writing, manual labor, and lectures on the importance of self-acceptance and positive endeavor. Since the 1930s, the treatment has been modified to include out-patient and group treatments; this modified version is known as neo-Morita therapy.
- Suzuki K, Takei N, Kawai M, Minabe Y, Mori N. (2003). Is Taijin Kyofusho a Culture-Bound Syndrome? [letter]. Am J Psychiatry 160(7): 1358. full text
- Maeda F, Nathan JH (1999). Understanding Taijin Kyofusho through its treatment, Morita therapy. J Psychosomatic Research 46(6): 525-530. PDF version
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