About this Project

Kosawa Heisaku, 1897 – 1968

This research project explores the first generation of psychotherapists in Japan, looking in particular at Kosawa Heisaku, Ohtsuki Kenji, and Morita Masatake.

Kosawa was a devout Buddhist, generally thought of as the ‘father of Japanese psychoanalysis’, while Ohtsuki was a more political figure, whose friends and favourite left-wing causes landed him in deep water with Japan’s secret police in the 1930s and 1940s.

Both men reworked Freud’s ideas – Kosawa even studied with him for a time in Vienna – adapting them to Japanese society, both as it was at the time and as they hoped it might one day be.

Setouchi Jakucho

Kosawa’s final psychoanalytic client was the novelist Setouchi Harumi, who later became Setouchi ‘Jakucho': Buddhist nun, combative peace campaigner, and the conscience of contemporary Japan.

I wrote about her time with Kosawa for Aeon Magazine, and someone has been kind enough to publish an English->French version.

Morita Masatake, like Kosawa, had a deep interest in Buddhism. But his ‘Morita Therapy’ took him a long way from Freudian psychoanalysis – which, in his view, involved a lot of pretty theorizing and an abominable cure rate…

I post occasional updates on this research to the project blog and also to my main blog, The Boredom Project. Articles and academic papers relating to the project can be found amongst my publications.