Exploring Themes of Crisis and Coping

How do you handle a crisis?

Jamila Rodrigues sheds light on the various ways individuals face and overcome difficult situations. With unique challenges in every person's life, the approach to coping differs depending on the specific circumstances. Jamila emphasizes that crisis and coping are dynamic concepts that evolve over time, adapting to the ever-changing nature of our experiences.

Diverse ways of coping with crisis

Nick: Well, let's touch on your article, because in short, you explored two questions. One was what kinds of crises do Japanese women choose to discuss, and how do they embody this experience? And what lessons can we learn from embodying ikigai as a principle that you can lay on and a coping mechanism that women use to thrive in times of crisis?

And I noticed you referenced Kamiya, ‘as a principle that you can lay on.’ So it's good to see her name pop up, the mother of ikigai. So I think it would be helpful to maybe touch on crisis and coping.

These are two main themes, and how you would define it? Are they slightly different in how Japanese interpret these terms, crisis and coping?

Jamila: There are many different words for crisis in Japanese, right? So when I actually asked the participants if you had kiki, I thought kiki was going to be the word that most represented crisis. And some of them actually said, kikide wanai, so they didn't have crisis, they had a hard time.

And a lot of them decided to not speak about crisis and speak about the hard time, so taihen, something that was difficult for them. In English, we don't have that. Crisis is a crisis. But crisis and coping, they can mean different things. So we have personal crises, social crises, environmental crises, and the same happens with coping.

So going back to my research question, how do they cope? I think, in general terms, coping is a process that entails different levels and its outcome depends on how the individual handles that stress. It can be psychological, physiological, gendered, temporal, social, can also be cultural-based, and involves moment-to-moment interactions.

So coping is not fixed, it's a process that evolves. And it can be also regarded as normative and individual. And as I said, it consists of these kind of like, multiple, real-time transactions that occur episodic time. And they are constantly changing because crisis also change. So if there's a crisis that changes through time, then coping mechanism will evolve through time.

Nick: This time aspect’s interesting. It just reminded me of my brother-in-law, my Japanese family's oldest son lost his wife to cancer earlier this year, so very young, I think early 50s, with two children. So they've gone through this incredible crisis of the diagnosis, trying to cope, and I guess fight cancer.

Then her getting sick, and then her now dying, and then processing that, and the two children she has left behind and how their father's going to bring them up. And how for him coping with that means a lot of support from his deceased wife's parents.

And so I think it's interesting how crisis could be just one event, and it lasts maybe 24 hours or a week. And then you have something like a disease, and after the person's gone, there's still this hard time. And it sort of you wonder, when does it end? When does this crisis period end? Does it involve acceptance?

Jamila: There are processes. I think, maybe, in that particular case, it's almost like a second crisis that emerges. You have to deal with the immediate crisis of the person in that situation. And then the second crisis, it becomes even more at the individual level, which is the reaction that I have to the event. So it becomes another very personal crisis.

So there are processes. And like you said, there are things that can stay for five minutes, because I cut my finger and I have a crisis, or there are things that are very long term and these coping mechanisms, they sort of adjust to our crisis. But they are there to help us go through the crisis and somehow make it better or more bearable.