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The Anatomy of Dependence
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The Anatomy of Dependence

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  118 ratings  ·  19 reviews
A classic study of the Japanese psyche, a starting point for a true understanding Japanese behavior....
The discovery that a major concept of human feeling-easily expressed in everyday Japanese- totally resisted translation into a Western language led Dr. Takeo Doi to explore and define an area of the psyche which has previously received little attention. The resulting ess...more
Paperback, 192 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Kodansha (first published March 1st 1982)
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Community Reviews

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Ali Reda
Doi starts out by making a linguistic relativity hypothesis based observation that any word that exists in one language but cannot be expressed easily in others, refers to a phenomena which is culturally important in culture of the first language, but not so important in the culture of the others which lack a means of its expression. Quoting linguist Benjamin Whorf:

Every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which t...more
Those of you who are paying attention might recall that I have reviewed another book by Takeo Doi, The Anatomy of Self, which deals with the problem of how one can live in a society where the primary drive of everyone is to return to the state of perfect peace and dependence that we knew as an infant at our mother's breast. In Japanese, this emotion is called amae and it's one of those great words that can only be imperfectly translated. The image of the baby at the breast is Doi's way of descri...more
This book is unique because it has a more Asian-centered POV. Every other one I've picked up immediately smells of something else. At the same time, it also takes the West into account. I don't think I would have found a foothold in it otherwise. It's just that it's not written exclusively for the West; he retains a respect for his native culture and hasn't abandoned the truth for the sake of being more palatable to the American reader.

Although the translator says in the introduction that it's w...more
The book that got me into Takeo Doi, and by extension cross-cultural takes on clinical psychology. Doi explores the Japanese principle of amae, something universal to all human culture and experience, but only given an explicit name in Japanese language. Amae is related to intimate relationships we form with others, and how those relationships shape our behavior, and more so our total psyches. Doi draws on his own experiences in foreign cultures to define and explain what exactly is meant by the...more
One of my favorite words pg 58 Hohitsu: I want someone who would leave me to take responsibility to all outward appearances but in fact would give me advice and recognition. Hohitsu can only be translated as "assist" but implies shouldering all responsibilities while conceding all apparent authority.

There are so many men and managers who want women and staff to "hohitsu" them. You do all the work and take all the responsibility but cede all the recognition and credit to them. "The Help" comes to...more
The book explores an interesting theory - the term of "amae" and its impact upon the Japanese individual and social psyche - but in my opinion, the arguments are rather poor and undeveloped. It made me think of the saying "when all you have is a hammer, everything around you seems like nails".
An interesting book, describing a core aspect of Japanese cultural psychology, encapsulated in one word, "amae". No English equivalent exists, though the title uses the concept of "indulgence", i.e., the desire of the Japanese to be pampered or babied, and/or give such pampering to others.

This was a surprise, considering my own understanding of the Japanese as all business and serious. It turns out that face is designed especially for the outsider, contrasted greatly with deeply intimate friends...more
3.5 but I'm rounding up because of the food for thought it provides.

Things I like:
Doi offers a fascinating examination of the linguistic and social permutations of the amae psychology. Especially well thought out is the chapter on The World of Amae and the ways in which such a mentality informs myriad aspects of Japanese society.

The explanations of, and situations within amae, of terms such as 遠慮、他人,気兼ね、甘んじる,and 身内 which proved incredibly enlightening to myself as a resident, and will no doubt...more
Absolutely fascinating. Though I think any critical reader would be skeptical when hearing how many things are to be interpreted as amae, the breadth and depth of Doi's thesis is astonishing. At times it seems the ideas might be better expressed in poetry or drama but really no other form could encompass so much. Jiyo, jibun, giri, ninjo, wabi sabi-Doi interprets everything through the lens of amae. Even when not utterly convincing, his descriptions are eye opening about Japan as well as the uni...more
Good insight.
Psychoanalyst Takeo Doi describes the foundation of all interpersonal relationships in Japan, which is a concept called “amae”. Doi does an excellent job of describing Japanese terms and concepts that do not exist in a western framework and is careful to note connotations of these words,which may be different from their western counterparts. A must read for anyone interested in dealings with Japan, especially anyone wishing to spend an extending period of time there.
Took me forever to get through this - required a bit more brainpower than my typical reading material these days (probably more a sad statement on my reading choices than the readability of this book). Very interesting though. It was recommended for me to read before moving to Japan, but I suspect it might be better after I've lived there for a while.
Rebecca Radnor
A must-read for anyone wanting to understand one of the basic reasons why Japanese society is fundamentally different from American -- co-dependent relationships are considered HEALTHY. Once you get that, all the rest of paradigm shifts make perfect sense.
Probably a great book, but not an easy read. Under different circumstances I think I would have enjoyed it much more.
Aug 13, 2008 Karen added it
After living in Japan, this book explained a lot of cultural quirks that the Japanese have. I loved it!
this book is referenced in the wikipedia article regarding the japanese hikikomori (shut-in) phenomenon.
Mark Williams
This is THE book to read of you wish to understand the Japanese psyche.
Makes much more sense after living in Japan.
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The Anatomy of Self Understanding "Amae": The Japanese Concept of Need-Love The Psychological World of Natsume Soseki Seishin bunseki Chushaku "Amae" No Kozo (Japanese Edition)

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“Every language is a vast pattern-system, different from others, in which are culturally ordained the forms and categories by which the personality not only communicates, but also analyzes nature, notices or neglects types of relationship and phenomena, channels his reasoning, and builds the house of his consciousness.” 1 likes
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