Families Coping with Mental Illness: Stories from the US and Japan

By Yuko Kawanishi | Go to book overview

Acknowledgments

My deepest gratitude goes to all those American and Japanese families with mentally ill family members who participated in the interviews that form the basis for this book. Over the years I have been engaged in research for this book and other projects, I have necessarily dealt with deeply private information — the health records of family members as well as the participants’ innermost thoughts and emotions. Although the participants and I, as a social science researcher, had reached agreement prior to the interviews with regard to confidentiality and respect for their right to refuse to answer certain questions, it was always nerve racking when the interview began. I would try, of course, to make the interviewees feel comfortable and safe enough to disclose their personal lives to me as an outsider. Many participants in this study had suffered from the burden of a family member’s mental illness for a number of years, a situation many of them found hard, even close to impossible, to discuss. However, despite my initial concern, most of the people who agreed to be interviewed were candid and willing to be a part of this study. Interview sessions tended to be intense, and many tears were shed by the participants as they recalled their painful past and present. However, some participants from the United States and Japan were kind enough to say to me after the interviews that they had told me things they had never told even their closest friends, or that my questions inspired a lot of deep reflection about their own lives. All of the interview sessions were moving. It was a little frustrating when some individuals had difficulty expressing themselves in as articulate a manner as I had hoped. However, by the end of the session, I was always touched by their stories of how they had been coping with their loved ones’ mental illnesses. In short, there was not a single case that did not

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