I went to Japan recently. After my trip, a few people mentioned I might not love the individual’s place in Japanese society. I bought a book on the topic. The Anatomy of Self by Takeo Doi, a psychiatrist. So far, it’s fascinating. (Update: see my full review.)
He introduces the dual concepts of “tatemae” and “honne”. Tatemae are the social conventions in a particular situation. Honne are the individual’s direct motivations.
Individuals may override their honne to submit to the tatemae of a situation (e.g. choosing not to steal despite wanting something that’s in arm’s reach), but it’s understood that honne are always present, in the background.
This seems like a useful model.
People sometimes consider honne shameful, and pretend they don’t exist. Here is the author describing a particular dysfunction that can result.
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