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Encyclopedia > Amae

Amae (甘え) is a Japanese word coined from the verb amaeru by Takeo Doi to serve as a noun, which he then used as a keyword to unlock, analytically, the behavior of a person attempting to induce an authority figure, such as a parent, spouse, teacher or boss, to take care of him. The verb itself is rarely used of oneself, but rather is applied descriptively to the behaviour of other people. The person who is carrying out amae may beg or plead, or alternatively act selfishly while secure in the knowledge that the caregiver will forgive and indulge. The behavior of children towards their parents is perhaps the most common example of amae, but it has been suggested that child-rearing practices in the Western world seek to stop this kind of dependence in children, while it continues into adulthood in close relationships in Japan.[1] For other uses, see Word (disambiguation). ... Takeo Doi (土居健郎, born in 1920 in Tokyo, Japan) is an eminent Japanese psychoanalyst. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... This article is about authority as a concept. ... For university teachers, see professor. ... Look up boss in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Forgiveness has been described as a quality by which one ceases to feel resentment against another for a wrong he or she has committed against oneself. ... A male Caucasian toddler child A child (plural: children) is a young human. ... A parent is a father or mother; one who begets or one who gives birth to or nurtures and raises a child; a relative who plays the role of guardian // Mother This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... Occident redirects here. ...


In literary context

The Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi has done the most to explain and describe this type of behaviour. In his book The Anatomy of Dependence, first published in 1971, Doi states that amae is not just a Japanese phenomenon, but the Japanese are the only people who have an extensive vocabulary describing it. The reason for this is that amae is a major factor in Japanese interaction and customs.[2] Psychoanalysis is the revelation of unconscious relations, in a systematic way through an associative process. ... Takeo Doi (土居健郎, born in 1920 in Tokyo, Japan) is an eminent Japanese psychoanalyst. ... The Anatomy of Dependence is a work of non-fiction written by Japanese psychoanalyst Takeo Doi. ... A vocabulary is a set of words known to a person or other entity, or that are part of a specific language. ...

Doi explains that amae is the noun form of amaeru, an intransitive verb which he defines as "to depend and presume upon another's benevolence". It indicates "helplessness and the desire to be loved". Amaeru can also be defined as "to wish to be loved" and "dependency needs". Various bilingual dictionaries define amae as "to lean on a person's good will", "to act lovingly towards (as a much fondled child towards its parents)", "to take advantage of", "to behave like a spoiled child", "to trespass on", "to behave in a caressing manner towards a man", 'to speak in a coquettish tone', "to encroach on (one's kindness, good nature, etc.)", and so on. 'Amae' is, in essence, a request for indulgence of one's perceived needs. This article does not cite its references or sources. ...

Doi says,

"The psychological prototype of 'amae' lies in the psychology of the infant in its relationship to its mother; not a newborn infant, but an infant who has already realised that its mother exists independently of itself ... [A]s its mind develops it gradually realises that itself and its mother are independent existences, and comes to feel the mother as something indispensable to itself, it is the craving for close contact thus developed that constitutes, one might say, amae".[2]

According to Doi and others, in Japan the kind of relationship based on this prototype provides a model of human relationships in general, especially (though not exclusively) when one person is senior to another. As another writer puts it: “Baby” redirects here. ...

"He may be your father or your older brother or sister ... But he may just as well be your section head at the office, the leader of your local political faction, or simply a fellow struggler down life's byways who happened to be one or two years ahead of you at school or the university. The amae syndrome is pervasive in Japanese life".[3]

Amae may also be used to describe the behavior of a husband who comes home drunk and depends on his wife to get him ready for bed. In Japan, amae does have a connotation of immaturity, but it is also recognized as a key ingredient in loving relationships, perhaps more so than the notions of romance so common in the West. Maturity may refer to: Sexual maturity Maturity, a geological term describing hydrocarbon generation Maturity, a financial term indicating the end of payments of principal or interest Look up Maturity in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... This article primarily discusses philosophical ideologies in relation to the subject of romantic love. ...

Critical Reception

For a lengthy critique of Doi's work, which dismisses Doi's theory as merely another variety of nihonjinron see Peter Dale pp.116-175 ".[4] Nihonjinron (, discourse on, theories about, the Japanese) is a highly popular genre of writing purporting to examine the characteristics—national, social, cultural, behavioural and spiritual—which are presumed to be unique to the Japanese people. ...

Doi's work has been hailed as a distinctive contribution to psychoanalysis by the American psychiatrist Frank Johnson, who has devoted a full book-length study to Doi, and to his critics.[5]

See also

Hikikomori , lit. ... Parasite singles (パラサイトシングル, parasaito shinguru) is a Japanese expression for people who live with their parents until their late twenties or early thirties in order to enjoy a carefree and comfortable life. ...


  1. ^ Herman W Smith & Takako Nomi (2000). "Is amae the Key to Understanding Japanese Culture?". Electronic Journal of Sociology.
  2. ^ a b Doi, Takeo (1981). The Anatomy of Dependence: The Key Analysis of Japanese Behavior, English trans. John Bester, 2nd, Tokyo: Kodansha International. 
  3. ^ Gibney, Frank (1975). Japan: The Fragile Superpower. Norton. ISBN 0-393-05530-2. 
  4. ^ Peter Dale, The Myth of Japanese Uniqueness, 1986 Oxford London. Nissan Institute, Croom
  5. ^ Frank A.Johnson,Dependency and Japanese socialization: psychoanalytic and anthropological investigations into amae,1993 New York, New York University Press

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