Wednesday, 30th April 2014Seminar Thursday 15 May 2014:
‘Spiritual’ versus ‘Mental’ Health in Japan and the UK

This seminar took place on Thursday 15 May 2014, 4.30-6pm in Seminar Room ER152
(Room 152, Elvet Riverside 1, Durham University, 83 New Elvet, Durham – Click here to view map).

Dr Christopher Harding, BA, MA, MSt, DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS, Lecturer in Asian History, School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

To watch the Lecture, please click on the video below:



Since Japan opened its doors to western science and culture in the late nineteenth century, traditional Japanese religious and artistic ideas about ‘spiritual’ development and self-cultivation have entered into deep dialogue with western religion, psychiatry, and psychotherapy.

Exploring the results of a fascinating cultural conversation, this paper asks whether the way ‘spiritual’ versus ‘mental’ health is understood in Japan can help us reflect on and evaluate the growing closeness of religion, spirituality, and psychiatry/psychotherapy in the West.


Christopher Harding is Lecturer in Asian History at the University of Edinburgh. He is a cultural historian of modern India and Japan, working on these two regions’ encounters with western religion, philosophy, and psychiatry from the late nineteenth century onwards. His particular interest is in the new ideas and therapies that came out of these encounters – many of them blurring the lines between religion, spirituality, and mental health, and in the process revolutionizing the way we think about these things today.


Dr Christopher Harding