Working with Asian Families, Infants, and Young Children

  • Kenichiro Okano


Given the vastness of the Asian continent, there is an enormous variety of cultures, languages, and practices not only between countries, but within countries like China, Russia, and India. The chapter addresses “in depth” the questions related to interdependence and connectedness between family members. The traditional practices in Japan are emphasized as an example of something that may be common to many Asian cultures: “living for others” while attempting also to live for oneself. Family relationships in traditional Japan emphasize paying attention to the needs of parents, siblings, and other family members, duty, filial piety, and interdependence, rather than self-reliance and individuation. The advantages and disadvantages of this are described emphasizing their clinical implications. Individuals learn very early on to please others and to monitor the mental state of parents and other relatives. Shame and saving face are important concerns, as a family may lose prestige if one of the members commits transgressions of often unspoken rules. There is a constant fear of offending others and to preserve harmony above all. This has very important consequences for the types of psychopathology observed in highly “filial” cultures and for the parenting practices that are commonly observed. Parents emphasize shame and guilt, rather than actual punishments, and children are eager to make their parents happy and proud. Open conflict is discouraged and more subtle messages are interpreted between parents and even very young children. Some culture-bound syndromes associated with the fear of shame and offending are briefly discussed, like taijin kyofusho, osmophobia, and hikikomori.


Interdependence Losing face Amaé Misophobia Osmophobia Hikikomori Taijin kyofusho “Smelling the air” Fear of bragging Turning inward Shaming Interpersonal guilt Ancestor worship 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenichiro Okano
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of EducationKyoto UniversityKyotoJapan

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