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November 16, 2011

Fall 2011 CCS Noon Lecture Series - James Robson

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James Robson, Associate Professor of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University

Monks, Monasteries and Madness: The Relationship between Buddhist Monasteries and Mental Institutions in East Asia

This presentation is co-sponsored by the U-M Center for Japanese Studies.

November 22, 2011
Tuesday 12 noon to 1:00 pm
Room 1636 School of Social Work Building
1080 South University

There has been increasing attention paid to the relationship between Buddhism and medicine, but despite the advances in a number of subfields, there remains a paucity of studies on Buddhism and madness. What was the early Buddhist doctrinal discourse on madness? How has the category of madness evolved within the Buddhist tradition? While there are many records for monks who specialized in therapeutic practices aimed at dealing with those beset by demonic afflictions, possession, or madness, there was also a well-developed a tradition of highly cultivated "feigned madness" that marked the monk or artist with the distinction of not being bound by normative social behavior. In this talk, Professor Robson will discuss the history of some of the specific ways Buddhism addressed madness, but will narrow the focus of his comments to the intriguing history of one particular site in the northern part of Kyoto in Japan and the relationship between a Buddhist temple there and the many mental hospitals that grew up around it and are still active today.

Posted by zzhu at November 16, 2011 03:11 PM