Taijin Kyofusho, The Japanese Anxiety Disorder

Taijin kyofusho was first seen in Japan. But in the Western world, this type of phobia does not have its own category. It is classified as belonging to the social phobias.
Taijin kyofusho, the Japanese anxiety disorder

You talk to someone, but you feel you are annoying them. You are afraid of offending people, of making them uncomfortable by standing close to them. You are afraid to look people in the eye, to feel ugly, to be too shy, etc. That kind of social phobia consists of the disorder taijin kyofusho.

The disorder, taijin kyofusho, is a particular social phobia. It is a phobia where people are afraid to offend others in some way. It could be by saying something wrong, making wrong movements or looking at them the wrong way. While this phobia may sound strange, it is a social anxiety disorder that is right after the book.

This particular disorder is associated with the Japanese people. As you probably know, the Japanese have high standards of proper behavior, absolute respect for others, as well as well-behaved courtesy. However, it is worth noting that this type of social phobia can occur in all cultures.

Taijin kyofusho has his roots in doubting himself. This creates an obsession with being considered perfect. Therefore, one wants to look good, have the best attitude or have the most outgoing personality. Then one can again come to doubt oneself.

In the same way, things like being ashamed of one’s tribe, of saying something stupid, or having a bad odor are all examples of the little things that suffering consists of.

Taijin kyofusho was first seen in Japan. But in the Western world, this type of phobia does not have its own category. It is classified as belonging to the social phobias.

Scared woman looking back

Characteristics and treatment of taijin kyofusho

Tajin kyofusho can be translated as “the disease of fear”. This kind of phobia was first described in Japan. In Japanese culture, groups are more important than individuals. Therefore, the fear of offending others is understandable.

That kind of phobia can also be seen elsewhere in the world. But for the Japanese, it is a well-known psychiatric syndrome. Here in the West, one hears almost nothing about it. Although it does not have a category, it is part of other specific and related obsessive-compulsive disorders.

The differences between this disease and social anxiety

Although taijin kyofusho is another type of social phobia, it is worth noting a few things that make it special.

  • People with social phobias worry a lot and feel ashamed and nervous when they are with other people. But people with the disorder, taijin kyofusho, are afraid to embarrass themselves or annoy others, just by existing.
  • The most important thing is not how people with this disease react in a particular situation. They are unsure of how others might react when they have something to do with them.
  • Another interesting aspect is the obsessive-compulsive behavior. For example, there is a case of an American woman who was diagnosed with this disease. In a study by the American University of Health Research in Chicago, this woman exhibited a distinctive act of coercion: staring at other people’s genitals. She knew it was uncomfortable for them. But even though she was uncomfortable about it, she could not help but stare.

Such details say something about how complex this psychiatric disorder is.

Taijin kyofusho is related to compulsive behavior as seen in this picture of a group of people who are all bent forward

Special characteristics of taijin kyofusho

This disorder has four subtypes that form a particular kind of phobia.

  • Sekimen-kyofu. The fear of blushing and of others feeling uncomfortable with it.
  • Shubo-kyofu. The fear of annoying others because you are unattractive.
  • Jiko-shisen-kyofu. The thought of others feeling threatened or nervous if you look at them.
  • Jiko-shu-kyofu. The fear of having a bad body odor.

In the Western world, however, these four aspects have been taken into account:

  • An analysis of whether these characteristics are permanent or transient. For example, such behavior may begin in adolescence and later go away.
  • How bad the phobia is.
  • Whether there are delusions, obsessive thoughts, etc.
  • The disorder is common in people with schizophrenia.

What treatments are available for this disorder?

From a cultural point of view, taijin kyofusho can be quite interesting. The first treatment for this condition started, for example, in 1910, by Dr. Shoma Morita. Back then, it was this therapeutic approach that the doctor used:

  • To isolate the patient in a particular situation.
  • Ask them to relax and calm down.
  • To write a diary.
  • To do needlework, such as gardening.
  • Go to lectures with Dr. Morita

From the 1930s onwards, Morita changed a few of these aspects. He started doing group therapy, as well as giving medication. Nowadays, the Japanese still use Moritas therapy. In the Western world, things are different. Taijin kyofusho is not recognized as a separate disorder, so it is treated as a social phobia.

Woman with social phobia

There are cognitive therapies where the patient is exposed to the dreaded, and techniques for self-esteem and relaxation. But it all depends on the individual patient and whether there are other disorders as well. Nevertheless, taijin kyofusho is well known to the Japanese, not to us in the West.

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