- Paperback: 180 pages
- Publisher: State University of New York Press (April 30, 1998)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0791437663
- ISBN-13: 978-0791437667
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #202,410 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Morita Therapy and the True Nature of Anxiety-Based Disorders: Shinkeishitsu Paperback – April 30, 1998
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"Some of Morita's insights into the changeable nature of feelings and attention were ahead of his time. These insights fit well with some modern theories of how the dynamic brain works." -- Henry J. Kahn, University of California-San Francisco"This book is important in itself as a historical document as Morita therapy represents a unique form of treatment which has emerged out of Japanese culture. It presents a different perspective on mental health and impairment and thus another way of understanding human beings." -- Mike Sayama, author of Samadhi: Self Development in Zen, Swordsmanship, and Psychotherapy
About the Author
Shoma Morita published the original Japanese version of this translation in 1928. This English translation was developed by Akihisa Kondo, a practitioner of classical Morita therapy, Zen, and psychoanalysis. Peg LeVine is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Psychological Medicine at Monash University and is the only English-speaking person outside Japan practicing the classical four-stage Morita treatment.
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It's simple, but not easy. How do we get better? Practice, To paraphrase Forrest Gump' mother, "Sensible is as sensible does."
Check out the teachings by David K. Reynolds, an outstanding exponent of Morita Therapy through Constructive
Even though the author is at pains to emphasise non-alignment with religions or ideologies, many enlightening Zen notions underpin Morita therapy, e.g. keroketsu ‘which is the state of a donkey tied to a post. That is, a donkey that is tied to a post by a rope will keep walking around the post in an attempt to free itself, only to become more immobilized and attached to the post. The same applies to people with obsessive thinking who become trapped in their own suffering when they try to escape from their fears and discomforts through various manipulative means” (p.8). Shoma Morita conceptualizes the psyche as an ever changing stream – ‘always active; always in flux’, rather than the rigid western compartmentalization (Freud / Jung) and Cartesian dualism.
Most important is the concept of the psyche’s ‘dynamic flow and change between external events and the self’ (p.9). Refreshing are the book’s phenomenological antecedents and its focus on ontology (‘being - that which is’) perhaps reflecting Husserl’s clarion call for a ‘return to the things themselves’. In this sense this book strives to guide us out of the epistemological fog perpetuated by the Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) paradigm that is driven by the reductionist, neuro-scientifically and systems' theoretically questionable notion that ‘thought begets emotion’. Approaches in the CBT tradition are all about ‘change your thoughts, change your world’; the therapist busying (and tiring?) him or herself by getting the ‘patient’ to relinquish a hard earned world view and substitute it for a more 'viable' / 'valid' (God forbid) one (that of the therapist, I wonder?).
In contrast, the 4 Morita therapy steps are very much rooted in Heidegger’s notion (paraphrased from Siegfried Kȍnig) that we have been ‘thrown or even spat into our existence’ – that we and our world are inseparable (“Dasein”). The approach hinges on the notion that clients with ‘shinkeishitsu’ (anxiety disorders) ‘tend to get attached to a thought and force it into action as though it were reality’. The latter attests to the basic premise that for Morita, there is a 'reality' (or what he calls 'nature' - the flow of things). However, the treatment plan isn’t about engaging with the validity or viability of the thoughts themselves like CBT. Rather it is premised on a number of guiding principles of emotion, which include: ‘emotion, if left to flow naturally…flares up, reaches a climax then lessons and disappears. Another corresponds loosely with the ‘law of reverse effort’ (Frankl / Jung), i.e. that when we try to focus on controlling an emotion we intensify it, e.g. ‘don’t think of pink elephants’. Stage 1 of the Morita therapy therefore is informed by the Zen notion of, ‘if one tries to eliminate a wave with another wave, on will invite numerous waves’ (p.39). Consequently, the first step is rest and isolation with no attempt being made to divert the mind or escape the pain (distraction); or cognitive restructuring – thus a form of emotional cold turkey. This is in contrast to the western mentality of forceful resistance of emotion, application of mental force (see Jeffrey Schwartz) and emotional self-manipulation (sex, drugs, rock 'n roll, junk food, retail therapy, one-click buying and social media). However, stage 1 is also aimed at instilling a sense of accomplishment by having mastered or being liberated from emotions without ‘tampering’ as well as create a healthy feeling of boredom which is perpetuated during stage 2: “the boredom induced by my second stage of therapy prompts clients to readily carry out activities that may have seemed useless to them in the past” (p.45). It is also aimed at preventing the build-up of fear or anticipatory anxiety, fear of failure and perfectionistic propensities that for Morita forms part of shinkeishitsu. Therefore, patients are motivated to start their tasks immediately to prevent this negative contemplation. Stage 3 (intensive occupational work) is, inter alia, aimed at helping the patients dissolve their anticipatory fears; learn patience; endure work and build confidence through repeated experiences of success. Stage 4 is aimed at achieving a state of ‘pure mind’ – an attitude that does not deny or cover up the reality of emotions and instill the philosophy that in attempting to avoid feelings of displeasure or boredom patient are wasting mental energy that could otherwise have been used to advance their self-development (P.53). The stage also involves reading without trying to ‘remember or understand the contents’ (an approach to mitigate perfectionist propensities in the patient).
The downside of the book is that some of the key concepts may have been diluted / lost through the process of translation from the Japanese. At times, the book is conceptually and grammatically ham-handed and a better editing job could have added value. However, these small flaws don’t distract from a gem of a book that, even though published around 1928, is a fresh of breath air in an otherwise stale contemporary paradigm and offering of cognitive / rational emotive / behavioural / NLP quick fixes that are often devoid of existential roots and considerations.
From reading this book , there is little doubt that authors in the field of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) and mindfulness based therapies have borrowed rather liberally from Shoma Morita’s seminal work. I say, give credit where credit is due.
Domo Arigato, Dr Morita, Domo!
For the Western reader, Morita's material is unique and inspired. This translation, by Akihisa Kondo MD (a Morita Therapist himself, who published widely in the areas of Psychoanalysis, Zen, and Morita Therapy), faithfully captures the subtleties and nuances of Morita's original Japanese writings. The editing is undertaken by Dr Peg Le Vine, an internationally renowned Morita practitioner and scholar, and it serves both the material and the reader equally well. The book anchors Morita's perspective in a variety of cultural, contextual, professional and personal influences, and the paradoxical concepts which emerge speak to the mind of the psychiatrist or psychologist, the heart of the Zen student, and the intuition of anyone with philosophical interests in the human condition.
Rather than diverge away from the book itself, to comment on what it is not, or what has come since, it is perhaps more helpful to emphasise what the book itself provides. The conceptual building blocks of Morita's model and method are faithfully rendered here, and made available in a way which allows them to be integrated easily into both professional and lay frames of reference. While other approaches have since built on, or around, Morita's original therapeutic concepts and methodology, this book captures and conveys that essential foundation on which others have hoped to build. A reading of this book does Morita's unique trans-disciplinary contribution justice, and raises the important question of whether his contribution is of cross-cultural or indeed trans-cultural significance.
At a time when there is such an up-swell of interest in the role that `Mindfulness' can play in the psychological well-being of the average Western individual, this book clearly points to a much older model and method of treatment, which is itself grounded in the cumulative wisdom of practice traditions that date back many hundreds of years. I would not hesitate to recommend this book to any professional interested in alternative acceptance-based clinical approaches to anxiety, relationships between the Buddhistic and psychotherapeutic traditions, or to the more philosophically oriented reader with an interest in understanding the self from an intercultural perspective.