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2011年7月24日 (日)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:やさしさと心の病 /東京

(Mainichi Japan) July 24, 2011
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The effects of disaster on the kindest among us
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:やさしさと心の病 /東京

It has now been more than four months since the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami.

At my clinic in the Tokyo area, I have had a number of patients come to me with a condition called "sympathy fatigue," brought on essentially by feeling too much, too long for the people in the disaster areas.

Symptoms I have observed many times include insomnia, depression, feelings of helplessness, and feeling physically drained.

What is to become of these people?

Most of us, while mindful of conditions in the disaster-ravaged northeast, continue to live our lives as normal.  ほとんどの人は、被災地のことを気にかけながらも、いつもの自分の生活を送っている。

There are also probably many of us who have come to feel thankful for the lives we have and appreciate the importance of each day because of March 11.

However, there are also those among us who have been filled these past months with pain and sorrow over the earthquake and tsunami.

Even now just seeing disaster-related news can drive some people to cry so hard they can't move, and drain them of any ambition for family or work.

These people, who are not in fact direct victims of the catastrophe, have nonetheless been traumatized to such a degree they could even be developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

PTSD is typically thought to emerge in people with direct experience of a terrible disaster, crime or warfare. これまでPTSDは直接、災害や犯罪を体験した人だけがなると考えられてきたが、

However, with the earthquake and tsunami on every TV screen, it is possible that PTSD could develop even in people not directly affected.

The scope of the disaster was enormous, as was the flood of news and images about it.

For those so deeply affected, I provide directions for ways to relax and prescribe anti-anxiety medication as necessary.

But I also tell them very earnestly, "You, who feels so much for a disaster zone so far away, are a truly kind and sensitive person."

I mean this absolutely.

In this day and age when anyone could say they have only enough energy to think about their own problems, it's amazing that there remain people who can show so much compassion and sorrow over someone they've never even met, sharing their tears and their pain.

Of course, those who show signs of PTSD should be treated, but I also think that such kindness and empathy should be treasured.

One visitor to my office told me, "After the disaster, I thought I would do anything for the victims; I would give any amount if it helped.

But, after a while, I forgot that feeling, and went back to my "me-first" everyday existence.

I feel truly terrible about myself when I think about that."

I told the patient, "It's okay as long as you can just feel sympathy.

There's no reason to suffer yourself, so it's best to put what's going on in your own life first."

It seems strange to me that those who can quickly switch back to thinking about themselves are happy and doing well, while those who feel the most for the disaster victims must end up overcome by sadness and pain.

Shouldn't these people, whose kindness and generosity lend support to the disaster areas, be supported in turn? That sounds about right to me.

毎日新聞 2011年7月19日 地方版


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