Experiences in the conquest of neurosis by Morita Therapy


My experience

By Mr. Yasuhiro Etani, aged 38, office worker

During the period 1995 and 1996 my obsession led me to heaven and hell. I finished the standard learning course for Morita theory in November, 1996, with the consequence that I was free of my obsession that what ought to be actually is. I owe a lot to the many people around me, and a new world is about to develop before me. Morita thought has taught me that a workaholic (expressed by the formula work minus self equals nothing) endangers one's physical and mental health. Since then, I have taken an interest in other things besides my work, knowing how important it is to experience nature and beautiful music.

I remember this horrible experience. In the evening of a holiday in mid-September of 1995 I was taking a nap, exposed to a cool autumn breeze coming in through a window of my house. I had just finished preparing important documents, feeling mental tension and chronic fatigue. I suddenly felt a sense of fear running through my body, and something was pounding in my head. In spite of the cool wind my clothes were drenched with sweat. Then my brain and body tingled, and when I got up I became unsteady feeling as if I were walking on the clouds. Even when I tried to sit down I felt so restless that I could not stay put. I also had a fear of persons on TV. Human voices and music sounded like meaningless noises echoing in my ears. I could not read the print in the newspaper because it twinkled and faded in and out of focus. The landscape I usually saw through the window also looked unreal. I felt so lonely, as though I had wandered into a strange town. I was shocked and wondered if I had gone crazy. I gave a silent cry for help to my image in the mirror.

abnormalities and became obsessed with each physical symptom. This brought me to a state in which I writhed in depression all the time, feeling as if I were at the bottom of a deep sea. Half a year later, in April of 1995, I was promoted to a managerial position in my company and sent to a post in a new town. In this new work place I began to have terribly stiff shoulders and a stomachache together with mental tension and tired feelings. I suppose I was already in the preliminary stages of neurosis. However, I did not know why this was going on. Meanwhile troubles on the job increased gradually. With such a terrifying experience as a start, I was stuck in the spiral of attention and sensitivity. Insomnia manifested itself. The harder I tried to sleep, the more I became sleepless, and I never felt that I had slept soundly. Day after day, I had sleepless nights in which I tossed about in bed. Along with this sleeplessness, bodily obsessions appeared one after another. I used the toilet frequently at night and dreaded seeing morning arrive. Getting up unsteadily I felt as if the upper portion of my head were covered by a helmet. My whole body was so numb that I fell into a fit of convulsions. The joints of my hands and feet ached. Superficial breaths were followed by deep sighs. I suffered from such serious asthenia that landscapes looked whitish as if covered with haze. There was an oppressive feeling around my chest; my mouth remained dry; I felt oppressed; my hands and feet were dry and itchy. I could not taste or smell.

I would leave my house alone and plod along to the office. I was indeed out of touch with reality, lacking coherence in my thinking. I was at a loss, wondering if I would live as a cabbage the rest of my life and how happy I would be if I were to die. In November and December of 1995 the struggle with my work had already changed into a conflict with my symptoms. Being unconscious of my real desires, I was only thinking about removing the symptoms. In other words, I kept on taking wrong action to treat myself as an object of treatment, a means of reducing symptoms. On every holiday I went to the hospital and annoyed my doctor with complaints. In those days I added poor memory, a fear of printer's type, anthropophobia, excessive reconfirming behavior, an inability to understand others' speech, an inability to remember streets through which I had frequently passed by car, an inability to do simple addition and subtraction, and in the end I couldn't even understand the contents of important documents I handled at the office. Despite the fact that I belonged to the sales department, I found it quite difficult to speak with other people. I used to take refuge in a toilet, looking in the mirror at this miserable face of mine and reproaching myself for my unbearably pitiful conduct.

The idea that there was no hope of recovery and a desire to actively work to cure the disease by any means crossed my mind every day. I used to go to book stores to browse through books on autogenic training, meditation, and schizophrenia. One day I found a book by Dr. Hiromu Shinbo titled "AUTONOMIC IMBALANCE AND ITS TREATMENT". I was deeply impressed by this book, and soon after I began attending meetings of the Life Discovery Society. It was January, 1996. I believed that Morita Therapy would be the ultimate savior for me. I had repeatedly taken wrong action until then, and I desperately addressed myself to this therapy in search of a slight ray of hope from its beam in the dark. I think the timewas ripe, and this was a real opportunity for me.

I began to accept my symptoms as they were. I never took a day off. I kept the rhythm of my life. I willingly managed simple daily tasks such as cleaning my ash tray, making the beds, and so forth. Over and over I read about the experiences of others as written in the monthly periodical of the Life Discovery Society, underlining and writing notes in my notebook. I read Moritist books one after another, and carried one with me as a charm whenever I went out. I attended meetings at only one place at first, but later I attended at three different places, and took a standard course after a time. At that time, with my depression and depersonalization, I had no ambition. I had no "desire to live fully" as referred to by Morita theory. But it seems that my desire to cure my disease was strong. While studying Morita theory diligently, and attending meetings every month, my symptoms went up and down for half a year. There was a time when I feared that I would not recover from my disease. At my earnest request, my neurosurgeon carried out an MRI and CT on my brain. As a result, he diagnosed my disease as senile dementia. Completely confused by the diagnosis I sometimes thought of suspending my practice of Morita Therapy. But I believe that my acceptance of the post of discussion group leader and my steady attendance at the meetings for one year supported by my seniors have proved to be a shortcut toward freedom from my symptoms.

Soon after, I was transferred to a new post in the head office, where I worked on the general staff. As soon as I was released from the tensions and heavy pressure I was also liberated from my symptoms. The environmental change involving demotion from management to the office staff liberated me from my distressful symptoms. I was on the verge of giving up my social life, when Morita gave me a helping hand. My first knowledge of Morita after my neurosis appeared showed me that I was an inflexible person with nothing else on my mind other than my career. Morita taught me that the career is important, but it isn't everything in life. Developing interests in one's home, community service, hobbies, and nature as well as for one's work helps make a broad-minded person.

Since childhood I had been possessed with an inferiority complex. I had made my life increasing narrow with neurosis resulting naturally. Encouraged by the Society members who had overcome similar anxieties and actively engaging in social relations, I was finally able to accept myself, the one whom I had previously rejected and treated so poorly.

Well, what is the difference between my neurotic character and my present character? At present I remain unchanged in character in the sense that I feel inferior, that my lack of understanding limits my ability to do things, and that I tend to persist cautiously. The problems persist because I repeatedly behaved from a wrong understanding for a long time. I was shy and retiring, and I failed to make special effort to achieve my goals. I had a lack of ability to solve problems due to insufficiency in experience and knowledge. In the past, I was concentrating my mind on turning my attention away from my own lack of ability with a sigh. I would overreach myself without trying to attend fully to my real self.

However, after I realized that it was no longer necessary for me to aim too high, my narrow and monotonous daily life began to take on brilliant colors. The scenery which had looked flat now looks three dimensional and familiar. I have hope of starting my life all over again from scratch. I cannot adequately describe these past two years, but I will never forget them. It is entirely thanks to Morita Therapy that I have been relieved from my deadly suffering so that I may spend days more actively than ever before. I have the intention of continuing a Moritist life in the future until I forget the event of these two years completely.

September 20, 1997


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