Chikako Ozawa-de Silva was honored with the 2023 Stirling Book Prize from the Society for Psychological Anthropology for her most recent book, The Anatomy of Loneliness: Suicide, Social Connection, and the Search for Relational Meaning in Contemporary Japan during the Biennial Society for Psychological Anthropology Conference in San Diego. This is her third book prize this academic year for The Anatomy of Loneliness.
One of the two nominators for this book referred to it aptly as a “beautiful and haunting look at the human need for connection, purpose and the consequences of living in a society that increasingly silos us from each other.” The committee found her book theoretically and empirically rich, carefully analyzed, and beautifully written. The contribution to psychological anthropology is clear and profound, and it also touches on a highly relevant subject of our time with cross-disciplinary implications and implications for society at large: namely, young adults’ experiences of loneliness. Professor Ozawa-De Silva explores the concept of the “lonely society” to analyze and convey the power that societies can have in making “people feel uncared for, unseen, and unimportant” – an issue of global relevance and an innovative contribution to contemporary studies in psychological anthropology on the loss of self and suicide.
Despite the book’s focus on a particular field and particular actors (young adults in Japan), the book’s major asset is to link the analysis of this particular case to wider discourses about the interconnections between inter/subjectivity, empathy, and society. The book thus has a huge potential to help us think through interlinkages between societies in general and the phenomenon of loneliness. The last chapter “What loneliness can teach us” is masterful: the author uses her ethnographic knowledge in a critical and socially committed way to shows what might be taken from this study to improve the well-being of people in general who severely suffer from the current and rising “lonely society”.
Congratulations to Chikako for this outstanding contribution!
Obtain your copy of The Anatomy of Loneliness here!