Experiences in the conquest of neurosis by Morita Therapy


Afflicted with neurotic headaches and sleeplessness

By Ms. Suzuyo Ohtani

In the midst of my son's entrance examination and house-moving

When my son was in his third year of junior high school, our family moved from Tokyo to Nagoya because my husband was transferred to the branch office there. Although the number of school subjects for the entrance examination into senior high school was three in Tokyo, it was found to be five in Nagoya. This difference flustered my son very much. Nevertheless, as a parent there was nothing I could do to help him with that problem.

Moreover, my husband frequently invited his subordinates to the house because the company-owned houses for employees were located near the branch office. I asked him to see to it that we would spend our life quietly for one year with the entrance examinations near at hand. However, knowing that he was inviting others to our home for the sake of his job in the company, I could not force him to stop it. Very often, we could hear the sounds of voices of my husband and his men at midnight downstairs while my son was upstairs doing his homework. I worried a lot about the exams and felt a lot of stress.

Furthermore, our company residence was a duplex and the family of my husband's boss lived in the house next door. It was difficult for me to go around with them because I felt nervous. I think that under such circumstances my nerves were as tight as a strung wire. Right after my son's examination was over, a sense of emptiness attacked me. I felt as though a hole had opened in my chest, and unexpressed anxiety persistently followed me around. I had no desire to do anything.

However, I am by nature a hard worker like an ant. I of course like sweeping, washing, and cooking, and I do not feel satisfied unless I keep my house immaculately. I said to myself with irritation "Now this is serious! Get rid of this anxiety by all means. I want to feel at ease."

To add to my burden, information concerning the sudden death of my friend's husband in New York and other various matters came to my ears. I could not take such information as one would normally, I began to worry that these things might happen to me.

Unbearable headaches and sleeplessness

My physical symptoms were gradually becoming serious. Hemorrhoids, which I had almost forgotten, relapsed after an interval of dozens of years. Following a doctor's advice, I underwent an operation. Two weeks later, on returning home from the hospital, I forced myself to move around in my house to do housekeeping, wishing to get back things as they were as soon as possible. I wasn't like this before, I thought, failing to convince myself that it would take time to recover completely.

My headaches were the worst part. They were not ordinary ones, but felt as though there were a pot sitting tightly on my head. I complained to the doctor about the symptoms, asking him some questions, but he seemed not to take them seriously. This displeased me, and I gradually lost trust in the doctor.

Before long, little by little I began to have difficulty sleeping. Day after day, I began worrying in the afternoon about sleeping that night, and I felt uneasy to see the evening coming around. I shivered at the thought that I would have to go to bed tonight again and that I would toss about in bed while my whole family would sleep quietly.

One day, I found an article in the Asahi Newspaper introducing the "LIFE DISCOVERY SOCIETY". When I read it, it occurred to me that this was what I was searching for. I was suffering from neurosis, and I wasn't really sick after all. This revelation was a great joy to me. Some days later I become a member of the Society, and started learning Morita theory.

Going ahead with illness as it is

About a month later my husband was again transferred, this time to the Tokyo office, and he went there alone. Remaining in Nagoya, I had to do all the moving-related things such as arranging for the movers. This was a great shock to me, but I could not possibly escape it, even if I wished. Until then, I had always tried hard to avoid things, but for about half a year I had to plunge ahead in spite of my fear over and over again. I was learning Morita theory.

For example, if I went out to meet somebody my head felt heavy from sleeplessness. With such a headache I could not keep my eyes open. At that time, because I tried hard to suppress the headache somehow, fighting against the symptom, everything would get much worse. So I endeavored to say to myself "Nothing else matters; just go ahead with this." Even if I felt terribly, it could quietly listen to the person I met. Then, the symptom would subside by and by.

From what I truly learned by my actual bodily experience, I was finally aware that nothing was actually pressing against my head, and it was not useful to try to remove the symptom by suppressing it. In this way, I have continued my study and daily practice. I believe that this helped me find a way out of the swamp.

Leaving myself till later

After my return to Tokyo, I began to attend the group discussion that took place near my home (such meetings are held monthly across the country sponsored by the Life Discovery Society). In the beginning listening to a person with a symptom different from my anthropophobia, I wondered how such a disease could be troublesome.

However, I came to realize that my focus was on myself and that I had really been a self-centered person. So I volunteered to offer assistance to other members and help manage the meetings. This experience was quite valuable to me. For instance, some members attend the meetings merely because they want to be cured; their frequent visits to the meetings are based on their fervent wishes to be cured. But a person in charge of the meeting, like myself, must consider many matters such as one's role in managing the meeting, the planning for next month and the month after and the whole year. If one does so, one becomes inclined to think of handling one's own needs tomorrow or perhaps the day after tomorrow or the next day until one forgets one's own problems altogether. This helped me get rid of my symptoms. At present, I busy myself every day with housekeeping, the teaching of the flower arrangement, and the management of meetings.

(The writer is Director of the Life Discovery Society)


Copyright (C) 1999-2009 The Mental Health Okamoto Memorial Foundation