Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 23:47:20 -0800
From: "SARA N. HINES" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Very much appreciated your article on Karoshi. Many Americans work
these sorts of hours but a clear pattern of death from overwork isn't
here. I was interested in what mental patterns people experienced when
they were intensely overworked.
I have unwittingly found myself working 7 days a week for a number of
months recently and found that mentally almost any other input from the
outside was shut out. Finally, the projects were finished and
everything seemed quite empty and meaningless--all life meaning had
become tied up in work. I felt somewhat depressed and noted a lack of
interest in living.
After some days, my mental horizons again have widened and my enjoyment
of life has begun to return. I am self-employed and it was my choice to
take on the work challenge that involved so many long days some 16 hours
I wondered if there are some generally recognizable mental symptoms of
karoshi that people could monitor. I observed that the experience of
mental and physical exhaustion was similar to what sleep deprived people
experience. In fact, as became more and more exhausted, I was unable to
sleep more than 4 hours a night and that in naps. I found that I could
concentrate very well on exactly what my work was, but that other areas
of my life I could barely make sense of. It came as a relief when I had
to go back to the project I was working on. As, in that pattern, I
could function well.
I thought it was interesting that the actual physical death in karoshi
was caused primarily by cerebal hemorrhage (or stroke) or secondarily
heart. It was as if the brain itself was damaged by the overwork. It
may be that the electric behavior in the brain needs variety in the same
way that the brain requires REM or dream sleep to function normally.
Does the actual monomaniacal concentration on only one routine damage
the brain? Of course the causes of death were essentially circulatory,
but what function does the brain play in regulating these functions by
either endocrine secretions or endorphin production.
Though you related your paper to sociological factors in Japanese
society, I think that there may be global information here. There is
always a need for balance in life.
Please feel no obligation to respond. I very much appreciated your
paper and will check again to see more of your work.
Massachusetts, USADate: Tue, 09 Dec 1997 18:37:07 -0800
From: "SARA N. HINES" <email@example.com>
To: Tetsuro Kato <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: Karoshi
Tetsuro Kato wrote:
> At 11:47 PM -0800 1997.12.08, SARA N. HINES wrote:
> >Very much appreciated your article on Karoshi. Many Americans work
> >these sorts of hours but a clear pattern of death from overwork isn't
> >here. I was interested in what mental patterns people experienced when
> >they were intensely overworked.
> Thank you for your long mail-comment on my KAROSHI paper from USA.
> About KAROSHI, you can read some of my other English papers and also
> directly ask to the Japanese KAROSHI Hotline's English Page made by lawyers
> And one interesting case study of mental stress in Japanese company
> (Hitachi) is in:
> As your comment is very interesting, I would like to publish it on my
> Homepage for Japanese readers. Can you allow me to publish your private mail
> on my Homepage?
> Yours, Tetsuro KATO
> [Please see my Homepage below!]
> Dr.Tetsuro Kato
> Professor of Political Science
> Faculty of Social Sciences
> Hitotsubashi University
> Kunitachi, Tokyo 186, Japan
> Office Phone: +81-425-80-8276
> (Home) 2-16-41, Tokura, Kokubunji, Tokyo 185,JAPAN
> Home Phone: +81-423-27-9261
> Home Fax: +81-423-27-9262
> E-mail: email@example.com
> Internet Homepage:http://www.ff.iij4u.or.jp/~katote/Home.shtml
Thanks for your reply. I will give you permission to print the letter.
I might add that I am an architect, working out of my home, so that I
frequently work all day and then resume after dinner and work till
late-sometimes after midnight, though I hope I can stop that intensity
of work now. It may be, as I suggested the karoshi affect is there no
matter what the socio/economic pressures are--it only takes chronic
overwork to produce it.
It also occurred to me that one of the psychological experiences of
people who are suicidal is that the individual experiences a narrowing
of options in life, a feeling that is no way out of a situation other
than death. This seems to be a parallel mind state to karoshi.
Do you have suicide hotlines in Japan as we do here? Volunteers will
answer the phone 24 hours a day to speak with people who are suicidal or
generally desperate. They are counseled how to do this.
I will read the papers you recommended. I hope what I sent you was not
Thank you for your permission to use your mail on my Homepage.
Actually speaking, Japanese Karoshi in the 1990s after the collapse of bubble economy is called "Mental KAROSHI" or "KAROSHI-Suicide," because the physical working hours were a little bid reduced, but the Karoshi phenomenon continued still now especially by mental stress.
Of course there is "KAROSHI-Suicide-hotline" by lawyers as well as "Life-hotline (Suiside Hotline)" by medical counselors and volunteers ,especially for young generations (sometimes elementary school girls!).
But the difficult thing is how to prove it a KAROSHI in law in the court. Many karoshi victims experienced both physical and mental stresses and their direct reasons of death were, medically speaking, heart failure, celebral hemorrhage, subarachnoidal hemorrhage etc.
Thus, to understand Karoshi means to find Japanese society differently.
Yours, Tetsuro KATO
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