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2014年6月 9日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:断たれた人生の連続性 /東京

May 11, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: A life without continuity
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:断たれた人生の連続性 /東京

Recently, a common news item has been weighing heavily on me -- that of elderly people found wandering around who can't even say their name or address and are placed under the care of the authorities.

On April 22, the Mainichi Shimbun reported that in around six years since fiscal 2008 there have been at least 546 such people taken into emergency custody by municipal governments. Among them are those who have remained unidentified and continue to go by the names they were assigned.

Where did these people come from? If they were living with their families or in care facilities one would expect there would be missing persons' reports filed on them. Did some misunderstanding prevent those reports being created? Or were these people living by themselves until one day, having left to go shopping or to take a walk, they forgot the way home and even their address? Whatever the cause, these people have had the continuity of their lives broken.

Everyone has, from the time they were children, set and worked toward goals in the future like playing in a sports match, graduating from university and getting a job, raising children or paying off a mortgage. And sometimes we reflect on our pasts, at the timeline that runs through our life, feeling satisfaction or perhaps some regret.

As we age and our memories fade, we can give each other support. At a class reunion, we might be reminded by a former classmate that, for example, we were good at swimming, something we may have completely forgotten about. We can feel safer imagining how later, even as we grow into our elderly years and deal with dementia or other diseases, we can count on family and friends to fill in our memory gaps.

However, people who have forgotten their names and homes and have been taken in by police have no such support, and their lives have lost their continuity with their pasts.

Previously, there would have been people in the community -- people at the local temple, at the school where our children or grandchildren went, at the senior's club where we indulged in hobbies -- to say they remember us and guide us back home should we get lost.

In today's society, however, we are instead told by everyone, "I don't know you." It would be tragic if these unidentified people taken in by local governments pass away without knowing who they are and where they came from.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年05月06日 地方版


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