CONTENT WARNING: In this episode, we discuss the subject of suicide which may be sensitive for some people. If you need help, please contact your local crisis centre.
Dr. Chikako Ozawa-de Silva
Chikako is an Associate Professor of Anthropology in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Chikako’s research focuses on cross-cultural understandings of well-being, especially mental well-being, and contemplative practice. Her work brings together Western and Asian (particularly Japanese and Tibetan) perspectives on the mind-body, religion, medicine, therapy.
Chikako is the author of the book, Psychotherapy, and Religion in Japan: The Japanese Introspection Practice of Naikan, and also the editor of a special issue, “toward an anthropology of loneliness” from the Transcultural Psychiatry journal that came out in October 2020 and that has attracted great interest due to the covid-19 pandemic. Her new book, The Anatomy of Loneliness: Suicide, Social Connection and the Search for Relational Meaning in Contemporary Japan is scheduled to come out in November 2021 from the University of California Press.
And, Chikako, you have also written many papers on the topic of Naikan, mental health, and today’s topic loneliness. Chikako, thank you for your time today and for coming on the podcast.
In 2020, you wrote an article on this titled “In the eyes of others loneliness and relational meaning in life among Japanese college students. The article focuses on the relationship between social connection loneliness and meaning in life that emerged from a study of suicide website visitors and interviews with college students.
Suicide is a very sensitive subject, but I think it is very relevant to ikigai and life meaning, so we will be discussing it today. And you did a multi-year study of individuals who frequented Japanese suicide websites.