What is Japanophobia? (An Overview)
In this blog we will discuss the causes, symptoms and treatments of Japanophobia.
Japanophobia is an irrational fear of Japan, its inhabitants, its culture and the Japanese language. Its opposite is Japanophilia, meaning a love for Japanese culture.
It is also known as Nipponophobia. This is related to Anti Japanese sentiments that date back to the time of II World War.
Japan is a country in the Pacific that has progressed immensely over the years and very rapidly too.
The people of Japan are famous for their hard work and relentless contribution to the world of technology.
Japan has a rich culture and elaborated history of emperors and the art of ninja, where they were trained in deception, espionage and surprise attacks.
Samurai were the military nobility of medieval and early-modern Japan from the 12th century to their abolition in the 1870s.
They held high prestige and were honored throughout the centuries. Japan has a rich culture with a wholesome famous cuisine that is Sushi.
People love going to Japan, but someone who is suffering from Japanophobia will undergo a full-blown panic attack if they even think about Japan or the related culture, technology or cuisine, even the famous landmarks..
The person who suffers from phobia of a specific place or object undergo immense anxiety and their daily living, occupational and academic life is affected immensely.
Japanophobia is an intense fear of Japan and its culture, it limits the person from talking or even thinking about anything that is Japan.
Symptoms of Japanophobia
To avoid the experience of anxiety itself the individual may develop Japanophobia, so as to avoid the very cause of the uncomfortable condition.
- Anxiety at the thought of Japan
- Anxiety when seeing Japanese culture or the Japanese flag
- Unable to be involved in activities that include anything Japanese
These are intense and can begin without any prior warning.
The person suffering from Japanophobia experiences the full physical intensity of either all of these or some of these in combination with others.
- hot flashes or chills
- shortness of breath a choking sensation
- rapid heartbeat (tachycardia)
- feeling faint
- dry mouth
- ringing in ears
- raised blood pressure
- Bizarre behavior
The Psychological Symptoms
During panic attack the person suffering from Japanophobia may experience the following
- fear of being in Japan
- feelings of dread
- fear of being trapped
- Socially withdrawn
- fear of losing control
- fear of self harm
- fear of Japanese food and Japanese language
- feeling of hopelessness
- feeling of disconnect
- lack of concentration
- mood swings
- afraid of rejection
- incapacitated to enjoy the traveling to countries near Japan
Causes of Japanophobia
As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Japanophobia, but still a very plausible cause could be a fear of committing a mistake.
During World War II (1939-45), Japan attacked nearly all of its Asian neighbors, and was an ally of National Socialist German Workers’ Party Germany.
When the US attacked Hiroshima and Nagasaki with an atomic incendiary device, Japan launched a surprise attack on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.
Siding with the National Socialist German Workers’ Party and launching a massive attack may be the reasons for developing Japanophobia.
Japanese have given their enemies ruthless punishments in attacks and wars and this may also lead to the development of Japanophobia.
There is an element of racism as well in helping develop Japanophobia.
Persons suffering from Japanophobia may have read detailed accounts of the attacks they had launched and the punishments they meted.
Scientists believe that a combination of genetic tendencies, brain chemistry, and other biological and environmental factors could cause such fears to develop.
As is common in specific phobias, the cause of Japanophobia may lie deep in the person’s childhood or its onset may be due to an environmental factor.
Etiological Models of Japanophobia
1. Genetic Predisposition
Every person has a genetic tendency to contract a disease or go through a mental illness. This predisposition is embedded in our DNA and is handed down to us over the generations.
If the person’s ancestors suffered from anxiety disorders, phobias, mental illness or even Japanophobia, then chances are higher for him/her to suffer from the same or from either of these.
Phobias are familial and most often than not run in families. Their intensity may vary from person to person, from one relative to the other.
- Biological Cause
Hormones play an important role in causing anxiety disorders, specifically phobias as well.
Thyroid Stimulating Hormones (TSH) is directly related to the etiology of anxiety related problems that occur. Symptoms that indicate a Thyroid malfunctioning are:
- Changes in menstrual cycle
- Nervous demeanor
- Losing or gaining weight
Low levels of Testosterone (male hormone) can also lead to anxiety. Serotonin, is also called a happy chemical and depletion of this hormone can also cause anxieties of varying levels.
Dopamine, the ‘feel good’ chemical or neurotransmitter is involved in happiness and a state of elatedness.
When the levels of Dopamine drop anxiety and a feeling of dread become a common forte.
Adrenaline rush is another biological factor that emanates the ‘flight or the fight’ response. This response is triggered when the brain suffers from a threat.
This threat may be caused by a stimulus that causes anxiety. This stimulus is the very stimulus that initiates a phobia fear. In the case of Japanophobia, this stimulus will be Japan.
- Behavioral Cause
Children learn behaviors and attitudes from people around them. These people may be their parents, siblings, extended family members like uncles or aunts, grandparents or any significant others they are attached to.
In Japanophobia it is often found that if a member of the family or peer group would have an aversion towards the Japanese culture or their language or food, they would tend to develop this fear, Japanophobia in their children.
As with most phobias and anxieties, there is no clear consensus about what causes Japanophobia.
The most common explanation is a childhood traumatic episode where a child may have been bullied by a Japanese child or reprimanded by a teacher or parent on Japanese subject, thus giving rise to Japanophobia.
People may also be afraid of losing control because this is something that is not in their hands and not controlled by them, no matter how powerful a person is.
Thus, at the time he is suffering from the symptoms of Japanophobia, he/she feels totally helpless, aggravating their already hiked anxiety.
Treatments of Japanophobia
Japanophobia can be treated through different treatments.
These include Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), Exposure Therapy, Neuro Linguistic Program (NLP), Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction MBSR) and forms of meditation.
- Systematic Desensitization
This is one of the most common therapies used in treating phobias and an effective way to desensitize the person suffering from phobia.
In this therapy the client with phobia is exposed to the stimulus gradually with varying degrees of severity, varying durations of time.
The degree of severity is hierarchical, ranging from low to high. Every time the ‘exposure’ of the feared stimulus is increased.
In Japanophobia the client is exposed to images first. For the fear to be invoked during therapy, the patient must be exposed to an intense stimulus (one that is feared).
The aim of Systematic Desensitization is to remove the ‘feared stimulus’ and substitute it with a ‘relaxation response.’
Initially a relaxation technique that involves deep breathing is taught to the client.
Then the client is asked to present a list that has a hierarchical presentation of his fears, starting from the least fear evoking situation to the most.
The therapist takes the client through these situations via two methods:
a) In vitro – where the feared stimulus is made to imagine
b) In vivo – where the client visits the the feared place in reality
The exposure to the phobic stimulus is of varying durations, where the client exercises relaxation techniques and can revert to a previous non-threatening situation any time.
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT)
When phobias start to prevent the daily activities of the person, therapy becomes inevitable.
Cognitive Behavior Therapy is one such approach that shows the relation between thoughts, beliefs, feelings and behaviors.
It alters the way of identifying and substituting destructive thoughts and emotions that have a negative impact on behavior.
In CBT the therapist helps the client to amend his thoughts so that a desirable behavior can be achieved.
This therapy is effective, because if the thoughts or cognitions alter then there will be a lasting impact on behavior. It helps the person change the way he thinks.
The therapist helps the client to discover the reason for this thought and behavior that follows. This therapy is goal oriented and short termed. Therefore, the results are seen soon.
It changes the way a person thinks and feels. CBT does not focus on probing the past to resolve current problems, rather it concentrates on the present situation.
Our thoughts determine how we act or react to certain stimuli and situations. Therefore, negative thoughts bring about a negative behavior response or an undesirable behavior.
Whereas, positive thoughts propagate desirable and healthy attitude and response.
Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT) is a form of CBT and designed by Albert Ellis. According to Ellis, “people are not disturbed by things but rather by their view of things.” This is what subjective perspective is.
REBT is the dictum that it is our beliefs that makes us experience emotions like anger, depression, anxiety and not the events happening in our lives.
Changing irrational beliefs positively impacts on reducing emotional pain.
REBT’s ABC Theory: The Diagnostic Step
Based on Ellis’ theory, the ABC Model was proposed:
A – Activating Event: an event that takes place in the environment
B – Beliefs: the belief one has about the event that happened
C – Consequence: the emotional response to the belief
Not the event but beliefs cause emotional pain.
c) Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)
MBSR involves being aware of one’s own thoughts, feelings and reducing the interference from around the environment.
We do not pay attention to how we process the various stimuli that affect us.
We do not process the way our bodies feel and respond, there is no focus on our thoughts and how these thoughts are influencing our emotions.
In MBSR, the client is ‘woken up’ to actually experience the various senses. ‘Focus’ is the keyword!
For meditation to be effective during treatment, the mind is cleared off all the clutter of random thoughts.
The mind and body are made to be ‘in sync’ with each other, so that the feared stimulus does not invoke a negative thought.
The client will meditate during the thoughts of death and concentrate on his breathing patterns in the presence of the feared stimulus.
e) Group Therapy
Self Help groups are an effective type of therapy, in which the client does not find himself as a lone sufferer.
These groups are individuals who are afflicted with the same types of phobias.
They come together to share their thoughts, experiences and their coping strategies. This also helps in developing a ‘sense of I am not the only one’ suffering.
f) Changing Lifestyle
Breaking down the dullness of the daily, helps break down anxiety as well.
• Take up jogging or go for daily walks:
Developing a walk routine can damper the way our negative thoughts control our behavior.
• Indulging in an exercise regime:
Vigorous exercise like aerobics has proved to reduce or alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety. Exercise helps the mind to cope with stress and stressful situations better.
This is what the American Psychological Association has to say about inducting exercise to eliminate stress or phobias.
• Altering eating and drinking habits:
Cutting down on fatty foods and caffeine can improve self-image, that in turn leads to a raised self-esteem.
This finally diminishes the symptoms of stress to a bare minimum. With high intake of caffeine, the body resembles a ‘fight or flight’ response, thus giving way to anxiety.
When we get proper rest, our concentration improves.
g) Psychiatric Medication
There are a number of medicines that the Psychiatrist can prescribe if the symptoms of Japanophobia are severe.
- Anxiolytics (anti-anxiety drugs)
These should only be taken after the consultation with the doctor and shouldn’t be initiated or discontinued as per personal discretion.
These medicines are not only used to treat depression, but also to alleviate the symptoms of Japanophobia as well as other phobias.
Medicines alone might not be as effective, but if used in conjunction with therapies then the results will be better.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the fear of Japan called?
The fear of Japan is called Japanophobia.
How do I overcome my fear of Japan?
You can take up Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Mindfulness exercises to overcome the fear of Japan.
What is the best thing about Japan?
The best thing about Japan are the tourist attractions and the Japanese people.
What do you call thank you in Japanese?
Arigatou means thank you in Japanese language.
Below is a complete list of all Phobias which we currently cover.
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