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Addiction, Social Psychiatry, and Exhausted Life in Japan

Gokce Atici
Fri May 31st 2024, 1:00 - 2:00pm
Building 50, 52H

Against global trends, illicit drug use has been declining in Japan, with most nationwide surveys reporting lifetime illicit drug use under 2-3% and yearly drug use around 0.2% of the population. While much of the global north advanced medicalization, harm reduction, and communitarian approaches, Japan deepened surveillance and expanded incarceration. Once leading the world market in methamphetamine use per capita, Japan’s war on methamphetamine devastated user communities —and marginalized psychiatrists by excluding them from hospitals and academic institutions. Since 2005, psychiatrists specialized in the phenomenon of addiction became pop figures by revolting against Japan’s war on drugs. They were assisted by the world’s largest organization for citizen-research and non-governmental addiction rehabilitation. Drawing on two years of ethnographic fieldwork with psychiatrists, clinicians, welfare specialists and citizen researchers in the cultural milieu of the National Center of Neurology and Psychiatry (NCNP) in Western Tokyo Prefecture, this talk illuminates the clinic as a socially negotiated space. Tracing psychiatric care revealed the rejection of cultural models of addiction in favor of new therapies developed in collaboration between psychiatrists and citizen-researchers, challenging our ideas about addiction, psychiatric care, and the social life mental health.

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PW: 777956