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27-31 August 2019
Poznań, Poland
Europe/Warsaw timezone
programme last update: 23 August 2019
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Contribution Paper

Poznań, Poland -

Performance activities of individuals with a mental illness in Japan


  • Dr. Hiroshi SUGIMOTO

Primary authors


This study aimed to examine the performance activities in which individuals with a mental illness participate in Japan, and to consider interaction with conventional activities as self-help group and discourse of society. The most common activities were poetry reading in clubs. Sometimes they participated in dramatic performances. The contents of poems included the performer’s experience of the illness, their opinion of the society, and a message for others with the illness. Some performance groups and members had weak connections with other performers, audiences, and related individuals. Further, we-consciousness was developed through participation in the performance, as observed in the poem “Nakama (peer)”presented by a performer with alcohol addiction. Additionally, by facing their experiences and emotions through performance, the participants’ identity was constructed. The participant observation data revealed that these activities did not merely challenge or support social constructs, but they integrated the Western medicine discourse and social norms. Thus, hybridization of participants’ philosophy and identity occurred through such performances. These findings suggest that performance activities not only improve peer interactions or social participation, but they also facilitate the construction of the participants’ identity and we-consciousness. In the mental health domain, some interesting philosophies or strategies such as harm reduction and open dialogue are appearing. These philosophies may mutually interact with performance activities. In future, it is necessary to clarify how performance activities, contents of poems, consciousness, philosophies, and changes in social action and identity construction are affected by the philosophy of harm reduction or open dialogue.