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July 1974

Naikan, Morita, and Western Psychotherapy: A Comparison

Author Affiliations

Tokyo; Syracuse, NY
From the National Institute of Mental Health, Tokyo (T. Murase), and the Department of Psychiatry, State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse (Dr. Johnson).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1974;31(1):121-128. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1974.01760130091016

Naikan is a Japanese psychotherapeutic method introduced 30 years ago by a lay practitioner. First used in correctional settings, it has more recently been adapted to the treatment of psychoneurotic, characterologic, and situational disorders. Similar to Morita therapy, Naikan requires a relatively total subordination to a carefully structured period of "retreat," that is compassionately supervised by the practitioner. Contrary to Morita, Naikan is shorter (seven days) and utilizes long, regulated periods of daily meditation where introspection is directed toward the resolution of contemporary conflicts and problems.

In contrast to Western psychoanalytic psychotherapy, both Naikan and Morita tend to keep transference issues simplified and positive, while resistance is dealt with procedurally rather than interpretively.

Despite their differences, the efficacy of these three disparate therapeutic methods can partly be explained by their conformity with the norms and assumptive prescriptions present in the societies in which they are practiced.