The Mega-Marketing Of Depression In Japan Analysis

Great Essays
Every individual has a different definition for a happy lifestyle. Some say that a happy lifestyle depends on a person’s work ethic and wealth. Others think that a happy lifestyle depends on a healthy diet and good exercise. Similarly to how different individuals have a distinct definition of a happy lifestyle, every culture has separate definitions of the meaning of sadness. In the Western world, depression is described as a mental state and set of behaviors that relate to a loss of connectedness to others or a decline in social status or personal motivation. Ethan Watters, writer of the essay “The Mega-Marketing of Depression in Japan”, describes how cultural differences highly influence the way people understand depression. The company GlaxoSmithKline …show more content…
Watters point out that “every culture has a type of experience that is in some ways parallel to the Western conception of depression… a rural Chinese farmer might speak only of shoulder or stomach aches… and an American Indian might describe the experience of depression as something akin to loneliness” (Watters 517). The rural Chinese farmer’s biggest symptom is physical pain. This is because as a farm worker, the pressure is always on physical capabilities and physical labor. When the farmer becomes distressed, muscle pain is the most intensified symptom. With the cultural expectations of the farmer to do his physical best, the farmer feels overwhelmed and melancholy. On the other hand, within the history of Native Americans, we see them face social marginalization from Anglo-Saxons from the 1500s through the present. We see the American Indian cultural sense of togetherness destroyed throughout this time period. Psychologically, the struggle of their ancestors still leaves a strain in the minds of Native Americans, therefore the reason behind their feeling of loneliness when describing their depression. We clearly see here how “cultural distinct symptoms often hold precious clues about the causes of distress” (Watters 518). The expectations of each culture and the experience of the individuals lead to symptom amplification. The most common symptom of depression varies from …show more content…
In Japan, depression was not considered common or normal until American ads changed the societal norms. Capitalism is the face of Western culture, especially in America. In order to sell more products, American companies use inaccurate scientific studies to further their business. Americans and others who are affected by these fake science ads tend to believe what they see in advertisements as the truth about their mental condition. “Westerners may have lost their sense of moral authority in many areas of human endeavor, but we can still get our blood up defending our science… if the science is overblown, skewed, or downright wrong, then the moral certainty that fuels the charge into other cultures becomes suspect” (Watters 528-529). Watters shows examples of how American companies had both good and bad intentions when trying to advertise anti-depressants in Japan. The United States has some of the most advanced scientific research and studies in the world, so they aim to share their knowledge and research to other countries. However, because the aim was specifically to produce sales of Paxil, the intention of the cultural shift on depression is immoral. Rather than leaving Japanese to deal with depression in their own ways, Americans decide to bring

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