Psychosocial Homeostasis and Jen: Conceptual Tools for Advancing Psychological Anthropology



Personality is a Western concept rooted in individualism. The basic importance accorded it in psychological anthropology has obscured our understanding of how Western man lives in Western society and culture, or how any man lives in any society and culture. What is missing is the central ingredient in the human mode of existence: man's relationship with his fellow men. The concepts of psychosocial homeostasis and jen are designed to extricate our subdiscipline from this intellectual prison. The first describes the process whereby every human individual tends to seek certain kinds of affective involvement with some of his fellow humans. The second refers to the internal and external limits of the individual's affective involvement. With the aid of five major hypotheses based on these concepts, a review is made in a new light of familiar facts drawn from China, the United States, and Japan.