Children who "lose it"

In a horrid murder committed by a juvenile in Kobe that shocked Japan, the word, "invisible existence" became a key word produced by this incident. Following this tragic incident, another shocking murder of a teacher in Tochigi prefecture produced the concept of "revulsion" or "repulsion" (known as mukatsuku in Japanese) and "losing it" (known as kireru in Japanese). Both words are colloquial terms and not psychologically defined states of mind. In any case, it is a difficult task to try to understand the minds of children today.

When a child says s/he is repulsed, s/he means that something has happened that was unexpected and forces that child into a position where s/he turns out to be a bad person. When this happens, the child begins to become violent not only to the person who offended him/her, but to anyone in the near vicinity. The child loses control and becomes destructive. When one child feels this revulsion, then the rest of the children are also affected, and the classroom becomes anarchic and loses order of any kind. This is called gakkyu houkai in Japanese and means "classroom anarchy". This is also a very pertinent educational problem in the Japanese educational system today.

The children who cause such problem behaviors at school are considered to be "good" children with gentle, caring behaviors in the home. Furthermore, it is not often that they do not remember their violent outbursts at school.

The children are assumed to experience the emotion of revulsion as a step before they begin to lose control. It has been observed that these children, when they suspect they are about to be put into a position which they consider to be inferior or disadvantageous to their reputation or mental state, they act in several ways. They have been observed to become silent, speak of death, act out death rituals, use red and purple predominantly in their pictures, and sometimes blacken out a picture. It seems that there is a connection here, with wanting to become a "transparent existence". However, when we think about it more deeply, it also seems that this is the children's ways of sending out SOS signals.

Most children who become "repulsed" and lose control are in the adolescent years. It may be that there is a medical, biological or psychological mechanism characteristic of this life stage, in sparking these adolescents to behave in these ways. In other words, the program of the mind may become unbalanced with the accelerated secretion of the growth and sex hormones.

Psychologists claim that these children lose control because they have no place to vent their frustrations and instead of turning this energy in a more positive behavior, it is turned into aggression. I believe that there are also home factors as well as academic factors that drive these children into these states. Some speculations are that they cannot get along with their family members, their peers at school, their teachers, the pressures of commuting to cram school and the pressure of obtaining high test scores. It may point to the fact that the school and their home life does not allow them to feel that "joie de vivre" that I have mentioned before. In addition, living in this information society, the children may become frustrated because of the vast amount of information they are able to access, yet cannot process properly.

The psychiatrist seems to believe that there is a dissociation between the child's consciousness and behavior, which causes the loss of control. Consciousness in this sense, is the understanding of one's own mental state and the ability to examine it in perspective.

There is a possibility, in even a healthy person, for the balance of consciousness and action to lapse. For example, doing things that have become a habit. Representative of this is such activities like driving an automobile, talking while doing exercise or reading. Also, a superb pianist will be able to perform a piece of music without having to read the score.

An unhealthy state of dissociation is also linked to trauma. In the earliest stages of life, the child's brain is soft and malleable. Various life experiences and external stimulation allows for the child to learn various things and especially, learn how to live. However, whenever there is an imbalance in the stimulation, the brain is traumatized. As a result, consciousness and action become unstable and serious illnesses may occur, such as dissociative identity disorder, multiple personality disorder and borderline personality disorder. It is also considered to be one of the factors leading to hysteria.

This theory was developed from the studies child abuse, especially the research of sexual abuse in America, since the symptoms are similar to the trauma related to child abuse. Many psychologists are trying to examine other academic or emotional problems from this very viewpoint of emotional disturbance. Some of these problems include bullying, school refusal, violence, depression, suicide and autism. In any case, these children, for some reason, are not able to adapt to their social environment and become maladjusted.

When we examine the fetus's or newborn's behavioral development, it seems that there is a synergy between the basis for the programs of the mind and body based on genetic factors. However, these mechanisms are all individual and they are just reacting reflexively to one another. In the process of raising the child, these childhood experiences and guidance bring these various pieces of the puzzle together and it is formulated into one under the control of the brain, that is, the higher brain function. I believe that it is something that develops with age and at each stage, the child becomes able to deal with the various experiences and behave accordingly. The child's experience of feeling warmth and affection are elements that I believe is the key to formulating this balance and integration. This is also the key to opening up a smooth program of the mind. Thus, I would like to emphasize the importance of re-examining the importance of "skinship"(touching and hugging) in child rearing, especially in the earliest stages of life.
Write a comment

*CRN reserves the right to post only those comments that abide by the terms of use of the website.


Japan Today

CRN Child Science Exchange Program in Asia

About CRN

About Child Science


Honorary Director's Blog