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2014年7月 7日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「無関心」という不幸 /東京

June 15, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: The tragedy of apathy
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:「無関心」という不幸 /東京

Cases of unidentified elderly men and women with dementia and other conditions taken into and kept under protective custody for long periods of time have recently come to the public's attention, thanks to stories run by the Mainichi Shimbun and other media outlets. Just the other day, a man with dementia who's been staying at a nursing home was finally identified by family members 18 years after he went missing.

Sharing the spotlight with these stories of men and women are those of children whose whereabouts and well-being are unknown. According to the education ministry, there were at least 705 elementary school and junior high school students whose whereabouts were unknown for at least one year as of last year. Meanwhile, the government does not yet have a grasp on the number of younger children who do not attend baby and toddler medical checkups and have not been located otherwise.

Municipal governments are required to make home visits in cooperation with child welfare offices and schools, but not all children can be located, for example, if the children's parents move repeatedly. Just recently, the body of a boy who had been abandoned in an apartment in Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, was found years after his death. The municipal staff that visited the home had assumed the boy had moved and stopped following the case.

On the one hand, we have elderly people who are alive and well, but whose identities we do not know. On the other hand, we have children who we know were born, but we have no idea where they are and what they are up to. The reasons for these unknowns may differ -- one explained by dementia, and the other by irresponsible parents -- but both are emblematic of a tragic state that we humans can find ourselves.

During my consultations with patients, though, I realized that while the extent may differ, we can find ourselves in similar states in our everyday lives. One man told me that although he worked for years at the same small company, his boss refused to learn his name. A high school student in a family leading separate lives said that even after a few days away from home, the mother hadn't notice the student's absence. "Oh, were you gone?" she'd asked.

A Twitter response to a tweet can be uplifting, an acknowledgement of your existence. Conversely, when no one responds, it can fill you with anxiety that no one cares. To exist for years without having one's identity or whereabouts known is to live in a continuous state of others' apathy. Everyone born into this world has the desire to be recognized and cared about. All I can wish for is a speedy resolution to the problem of unidentified men, women and children.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年06月10日 地方版


« 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:彼らのルールは妥当? /東京 | トップページ | 今日のイチオシDreamNews »





« 香山リカのココロの万華鏡:彼らのルールは妥当? /東京 | トップページ | 今日のイチオシDreamNews »