Francesca Di Marco - CEAS Postdoctoral Associate
Medicalization of suicide in Japan progressed rapidly in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The inclusion of suicide into the repertoire of psychiatrists was almost simultaneous with the establishment of Western-style psychiatry in Japanese academia. Although the narrative of medicalization of suicide as a quest of modernity certainly applied to the Japanese case, Japanese attempts to medicalize suicide had an almost diametrically opposite dimension. On the one hand, they characterized suicide as an act prompted by certain pathology of the body and/or the mind. At the same time, they drew upon history of suicide when they characterized the act as an expression of what they regarded as uniquely Japanese virtues. In this presentation, I will argue that nationalist and internationalist aspects thus co-existed within the Japanese medicalization of suicide in early twentieth century, which exhibited curious mixture of traditionalist and progressive attitudes to the act of self-killing.