Mariko Aoki phenomenon
This article is a translation-work in progress of the 青木まりこ現象 article from Japanese to English.
If you are confident enough in your competence of Japanese and English, you can help Wikipedia by assisting in the translation.
The Mariko Aoki phenomenon (青木まりこ現象 Aoki Mariko genshō) is a Japanese expression referring to an urge to defecate that is suddenly felt after entering bookstores. The phenomenon's name derives from the name of the woman who mentioned the phenomenon in a magazine article in 1985. According to Japanese social psychologist Shozo Shibuya, the specific causes that trigger a defecation urge in bookstores are not yet clearly understood (as of 2014). There are also some who are skeptical about whether such a peculiar phenomenon really exists at all, and it is sometimes discussed as one type of urban myth. At the same time, there are also intellectuals who have attempted to discover the mechanisms behind the phenomenon using knowledge from fields such as biology and psychology.
The series of processes through which being in a bookstore leads to an awareness of a defecation urge is something that cannot be explained from a medical perspective as a single pathological concept, at least at present. According to a number of discussions on the topic, even if it can be sufficiently found that this phenomenon actually exists, it is a concept that would be difficult to be deemed a specific pathological entity (such as a "Mariko Aoki disease," for example). On the other hand, it is also a fact that a considerable number of the intellectuals (particularly clinicians) who discuss this phenomenon have adopted existing medical terminology such as from diagnostics and pathology. Borrowing from this approach, this article also uses expressions from existing medical terminology for convenience.
- 1 Origin
- 2 Hypotheses
- 3 History in Japan
- 4 Epidemiology in Japan
- 5 Clinical picture
- 6 Pathological condition and observations
- 6.1 Standard explanatory models
- 6.2 Olfactory stimulation theory
- 6.3 Conditioned response theories
- 6.4 Altered mental state theories
- 7 See also
- 8 References
The term receives its name from Mariko Aoki, an otherwise little-known Japanese woman who contributed an essay in 1985 to the magazine Hon no Zasshi (which means "Book Magazine").:55 In that essay, she related how she came to the realization that for some years, walking around a bookstore inevitably made her want to go to the restroom. The editors of the magazine received reports of other readers who had similar experiences, and named it the "Mariko Aoki phenomenon".:2-15
Possible theories behind the phenomena include the smell of paper or ink having a laxative effect, the association with reading on the toilet at home, and the posture of browsing making bowel movement easier. The evidence for these explanations however remains weak. The psychological hypothesis that the effect arises from feelings of nervous tension in the face of all the information represented on the bookshelves is well supported by literary figures (see 6.4.1).
History in Japan
Before "Mariko Aoki"
One known mention in Japan dating back many decades regarding a relationship between bookstores and the defecation urge is in Jun'nosuke Yoshiyuki's Amidst the Hustle and Bustle (1957), and similar mentions can be found in works by Jo Toyama (in 1972's The Emperor and the Lieutenant) or Shoichi Nejime (in 1981's Words, Too, Can Sweat--Literally), but it is uncertain from exactly what point in time the phenomenon first began to be a topic of discussion. It appears to have already been raised in the media from as early as the 1980s. For example, the magazine Common Man Weekly (August 31, 1984 issue) records television newscaster Tetsuo Suda talking about a similar experience. Also, the radio program Young Paradise (on Nippon Broadcasting System from 1983 to 1990) had a corner for sharing bowel movement related episodes, and one time the defecation urge felt in bookstores was discussed by being referred to as the "Yoshiko Yamada syndrome."
Vol. 39 of Book Magazine (December 1984; Book Magazine Company) contains a man from Ikoma city in Nara prefecture discussing a similar experience. Although this man's account of his experience did not garner any particular attention at the time of Vol. 39's publication, the magazine's publisher Koji Meguro later conjectured that the phenomenon probably already existed "below the radar" even before "Mariko Aoki."
Special feature article of Book Magazine and naming of the phenomenon
The name "Mariko Aoki phenomenon" had its beginnings in a real-life experience account sent in to the readers' letters column of the Japanese magazine Book Magazine (published by Book Magazine Company) in 1985. Printed in the magazine's 40th volume (in February 1985), the letter was by a woman from Suginami city in Tokyo who was 29 years old at the time, and stated that "I'm not sure why, but since about two or three years ago, whenever I go to a bookstore I am struck by an urge to move my bowels." The magazine's publisher Koji Meguro has recalled that at the time "Chief editor Makoto Shiina included the letter because he thought it was amusing." Although the letter itself was short in length and was not augmented by any particular editorial comments or the like, immediately upon the magazine's publication a large number of readers troubled by the same phenomenon sent opinions in to the editorial department. Due to the scale of the reaction, the next issue (Vol. 41 in April 1985) included a special feature article bearing the sensational title The Phenomenon Currently Shaking the Bookstore Industry!, containing discussions on the issue from various perspectives. In the course of such discussion, the phenomenon (the sudden occurrence of a defecation urge when in bookstores) came to be named the "Mariko Aoki phenomenon," after the author of the original letter. In relation to this, it has been noted that it was popular in late 1980s Japan to have words ending with "... phenomenon," an example being the use of the expression "Akira Asada phenomenon," which took the name of a central figure in the "new academism" that was a much-discussed topic at the time. Although the feature article ran very long at 14 pages, it did not ultimately offer any clarity regarding an explanation for the phenomenon. The name of the phenomenon was also displayed on the cover of that issue, which has been said to have led to the name's becoming known throughout Japan.
Reaction to the naming
When the special feature article was published in 1985, the Mariko Aoki phenomenon received considerable coverage, with even one of Japan's leading magazines Weekly Bunshun (published by Bungeishunju Ltd.) being quick to feature the topic in its May 2, 1985 issue. Book Magazine publisher Koji Meguro believed that one of the reasons that the reaction was so considerable was that it was an ordinary, young woman who had divulged this concern regarding the delicate topic of her own defecation urge. Mariko Aoki herself has been interviewed multiple times by the Book Magazine editorial department since 1985, and has remarked that she is not particularly bothered by her name being used. The phenomenon has continued to be referred to sporadically in various media since 1985 and has given birth to a large amount of conjecture and speculation.
In the 1990s (television programs that sought to verify the phenomenon)
While there has at times been a tendency to view the connection between bookstores and the defecation urge as a preposterous urban legend, specialists have also appeared who have added detailed insight into the topic, such that in the latter half of the 1990s it came to be accepted as an actually existing phenomenon. This can be considered to be due to the impact of television programs that were broadcast during that time.
On the 1998 television program The Real Side of Un'nan (in the episode broadcast on October 28, 1998 on TBS Television), personalities claiming to have experienced the phenomenon—including Kiyotaka Nanbara, Maako Kido, Seiko Ito and Keisuke Horibe—carried out extensive tests that also featured experts. There was a big response to this broadcast, and the program featured special segments related to this topic on multiple occasions thereafter (such as in the episode broadcast on January 20, 1999).
In the 2000s (the Internet era)
From the year 2000 onward, as the Internet grew so did the Mariko Aoki phenomenon come to be even more widely known. As of 2002, an Internet search using the keywords "bookstore, defecation urge" produced links to dozens of websites discussing the phenomenon. Another factor that increased its visibility was when, in 2003, the weekly magazine Aera (November 17, 2003 edition; The Asahi Shimbun Co.) compiled a comprehensive report on the phenomenon. According to one person from the bookstore industry, around that time university students could often be seen visiting bookstores to interview staff in order to research the phenomenon.
In 2012 on the television program The Quiz God (TBS; episode broadcast on June 29, 2012), the contestants were asked the question, "What is the name generally given to the phenomenon named after the woman who submitted a letter to a magazine in 1985 about the phenomenon of experiencing a defecation urge when one is in a bookstore for a long period of time?" Of the 20 contestants, 10 correctly answered, "The Mariko Aoki phenomenon". Quiz scholar and designer Hiroshi Nishino has observed that even when phrases—such as the "Mariko Aoki phenomenon" or the "Dylan effect" (a Japanese phrase referring to how a song or part of it can get stuck in one's head on an endless loop)--have not received academic consensus, "when they have an appealing sound to them they are increasingly being asked as quiz questions."
According to Book Magazine's publisher Shigeru Hamamoto, the magazine was still occasionally receiving inquiries from television programs or other magazines even in 2012. Hamamoto stated that the phenomenon was not just a one-time topic and is probably one that will continue to be talked about into the future.
While the phrase "Mariko Aoki phenomenon" is of course not one that is generally used in fields such as medicine or biology, due to its history of being a topic of interest such as in the examples set out above it is even sometimes introduced as being standard nomenclature. It has also been introduced in the same category as terminology from psychology and sociology such as "Peter Pan syndrome" and "empty-nest syndrome."
Epidemiology in Japan
Persons with a history of experiencing the Mariko Aoki phenomenon were described as having a "book bowel" tendency (Japanese: 書便派 sho'ben-ha) in Vol. 41 of Book Magazine. No epidemiological research regarding people with a book bowel tendency had been reported as of 2012, and nor do any statistics exist regarding a detailed morbidity rate or the like.
According to one very small-scale study, while the fact that people with a book bowel tendency existed throughout all of Japan indicated a lack of any regional difference, a female bias was observed with a male to female ratio of between 1:4 to 1:2. It has also been posited that the tendency is uncommon in so-called "sporty males."
One report has estimated the prevalence as being between 1 in 10 to 1 in 20 people. It has also been approximated that at least a few million people in Japan have experienced the phenomenon. According to a Japanese online survey that was targeted at working women between the ages of 22 and 33, the number of responses answering "Yes" to the question "Have you ever felt a defecation urge when in a bookstore?" was 40 out of 150 (26.7%).
While there is no clear peak age of onset, instances of adult onset appear to be common, with the 20s and 30s age groups being prominent. On the other hand, instances of children who experience the phenomenon have also been reported.
It can be said to be a phenomenon that anyone could potentially experience, as there appears to be no difference in the rate of incidence depending on family history. Mariko Aoki's mother, however, had said that she feels there might be some kind of genetic factor involved in the phenomenon, given that her own younger brother (i.e., Mariko Aoki's uncle) experienced similar symptoms to those of Mariko. The phenomenon is also known to show a tendency to pass on from person to person.
There has been found to many affected individuals among people such as authors and those involved in publishing. On the other hand, a tendency can be seen for the phenomenon to not occur readily among people such as bookstore employees or the families of bookstore managers. But there is not a complete absence of cases among people related to bookstores. Plastic surgeon Kiyoshi Matsuo has noted that "it can occur to anyone."
It can be understood from the cases that have been reported that the phenomenon can present with a wide range of symptoms other than the typical pattern. The classic clinical picture can be defined based on Mariko Aoki's original letter as follows:
- after being in a bookstore for a long period of time (contributing factor),
- suddenly (timing of onset),
- an urge to defecate arises (symptom).
All variations of the phenomenon are expressed in the form of the symptom of "an inexplicable defecation urge related to bookstores." It is not the case that there is any one particular disease or disorder called the "Mariko Aoki phenomenon." The psychiatrists Masao Nagazawa (1985) and Kazuo Sakai (2003) have concluded that "it is unclear what the specific causes might be, but, at the least, experiencing a "defecation urge in a bookstore" is not a disease." However, Mariko Aoki's letter (constituting primary literature in this respect) contains the language "I ended up with the same disease (soon after my friend complained of her own symptoms)," and it is also a fact that in humorous contexts the phenomenon is likened to a disease. It is also the case that the editorial department of Book Magazine has used expressions such as "this ailment of sorts" (1958) and "a peculiar disease that is rampant throughout the world" (1994)."
In his book What is Illness? (1970, Chikuma Shobo), Yoshio Kawakita asserted that "illness is actually not a scientific concept but is a pragmatic concept based on an understanding between the patient side and the physician side," and this assertion was borrowed by clinical psychologist Toshio Kasahara (2010), who stated that since most of the people who experience the Mariko Aoki phenomenon do not seek medical attention at hospitals or medical clinics, he does not consider it an illness.
Psychiatrist Takashi Sumioka (1997), meanwhile, has noted the possibility that hidden behind the symptom of "wanting to go to the bathroom" may be a condition such as irritable bowel syndrome or anxiety disorder.
Mariko Aoki relates that "being in a bookstore for a long period of time" or "smelling the scent of new books for a long period of time" will set off the series of symptoms. According to Aoki, the symptoms can develop in such situations regardless of the type of book, whether "when cradling a high-brow literary tome" or "when standing to browse-read a manga comic." Aoki also notes that the phenomenon can be reproduced more readily "when a bit constipated" or "on the morning after having a nightcap."
As for locations where the phenomenon is experienced, reports include that "symptoms are particular strong when in a large bookstore," "it readily occurs at English language booksellers," "it can occur not just in bookstores that sell new books but also in secondhand bookstores or libraries," "it occurs only in libraries," and when the member of a magazine editorial team "is in the company's archives room." There are also cases where, once people exit a bookstore due to having perceived a defecation urge, before they know it the symptoms have subsided. Cases have also been identified where the phenomenon does not occur in bookstores, secondhand bookstores, or libraries, but in places such as CD stores, video rental stores, and video game stores. According to an online survey targeting working females aged 22 to 34 who were asked in what situations they tend to be confronted with a "sudden defecation urge," while responses were received of the likes of "when standing on the train on the way to work" and "when feeling nervous before a meeting," the response "when in a bookstore" stood out particularly.
The circumstances of the moment in which the defecation urge appears have been described as including "when reading the spine covers of books," "when looking through the bookshelves in bookstores," "when standing in bookstores while browse-reading,""when viewing the spine titles of the array of books laid out on bookshelves," "as soon as having entered a bookstore and being surrounded by bookshelves," "when selecting a book from the library," and "directly after doing a once-through of the new release books."
One opinion is that "it often happens when reading serious books such as literary works."[『読売新聞』1997年10月9日付朝刊、p29] The novelist Jiro Asada has said that the strength of the symptoms are proportionally related to the size of the bookstore and the degree of difficulty of the books he is looking for."[『読売新聞』1997年10月9日付朝刊、p29]
Another person who use to be struck by a defecation urge whenever going to a bookstore reported that the symptoms suddenly resolved themselves immediately upon starting a part-time job at a bookstore.[『本の雑誌』41号、p4]
In subsequent media interviews, Mariko Aoki has added the following details about the phenomenon:[『本の雑誌』41号、p12]
- When walking around in circles through the bookshelves in bookstores, she will suddenly want to go to the bathroom.
- The phenomenon occurs when she has been in a bookstore for an hour or more.
- The phenomenon occurs completely irrespective of the type of books.
- It has never happened to her in a library or secondhand bookstore.
- She has also worked in a printery where there were many opportunities for exposure to the smell of paper and ink, but there was never any onset of the symptoms.
Onset and symptoms
Persons who have experienced this phenomenon all share the same complaint: "a sudden awareness of an unbearable defecation urge." The Book Magazine reporting team listed features of this defecation urge that included urgency in the lower abdominal area, shivers across the entire body, facial pallor, cold sweat (greasy sweat), and a bow-legged gait.[『本の雑誌』41号、p2] Borborygmus is cited as an objective symptom, described as "the belly making a gurgling noise"[ウェブページ：“本屋に行くと催すのはなぜ”] and "gurgle-gurgle gurrrrgle"[『なぜ本屋さんでトイレに行きたくなるのか』、p47]. The thinker Tatsuru Uchida has called these clinical presentations a "latrine-seeking" problem.[『読売新聞』2006年11月26日付朝刊、p11] People walking around looking for a bathroom have also been described as "wearing a vacant stare."[『レック』3号、p21]
There are also known to be cases of not simply a defecation urge but also symptoms such as abdominal pain[『本の雑誌』41号、p6] or diarrhea[『本の雑誌』41号、p5]. There are also said to be cases where what presents is not an urge to defecate but an urge to urinate,[『BIG tomorrow』2008年1月号、p159][『レック』3号、p21] or need to urinate frequently.[『週刊朝日』1995年5月5-12日合併号、p138] Results from a survey of 30 people reported that, of 18 people who responded that they "have an experience of [being in a bookstore and] going to the bathroom and using the toilet," 7 people responded that they "experienced a defecation urge only" and another 7 that they "experienced a urination urge only," while 4 people responded that they experienced "both a defecation and a urination urge."[『レック』3号、p21]
The defecation urge that is experienced has been explained to have characteristics such as "a kind of heaving sensation in the rectal passage,"[『本の雑誌』41号、p4] "a dull convulsive pain in the gut,"[『週刊平凡』1984年8月31日号、p100] "a filling-up sensation in the lower abdominal area,"[『本の雑誌』41号、p13] and "a focusing of all nervous energy on the anal area,"[『なぜ本屋さんでトイレに行きたくなるのか』、p47] and the intensity of the sensation has been variously described with expressions such as "enough to make one scared about going to a bookstore again,"[『本の雑誌』41号、p4] "hellish,"[『本の雑誌』41号、p4] and "Armageddon-class."[『勇気凜凜ルリの色』、p239] Even in cases where the subject manages to remain continent, it is described as "a frustrating situation of half wanting to go to the bathroom and half feeling like one can put it off."[ウェブページ：“あれってホント？ 「本屋で急に便意を感じる」の真相を働く女子に聞いてみた”]
No prodromal symptoms are known, with the phenomenon said to "occur regardless of how good one's physical condition is."[『勇気凜凜ルリの色』、p237]
The state of mind immediately prior to and following onset has been complained of as a deflating feeling "of sheer patheticness."[『アンアン』1999年2月19日号、p60] There are also people who fall into a state of anticipatory anxiety about "whether it might happen again next time."[『アンアン』1999年2月19日号、p60] Some people have talked of a peculiar experience of "a heightened feeling in the mind of deep, literary emotion."[『本の雑誌』40号、p93]
When symptoms become severe, the phenomenon can even come to impact on quality of life, including people saying, "I can't take my time looking for books because I end up wanting to go to the bathroom,"[『アエラ』2003年11月17日号、p74] "I get other people to by the books I need,"[『週刊平凡』1984年8月31日号、p100] "As soon as I've bought the book I need, I get outside the bookstore,"[「雑踏の中で」] "I can't go to a bookstore wearing white pants (because of the risk of incontinence),"[『テレビブロス』2010年10月2日号、p83] and "Even just dreaming of entering a bookstore always makes me want to go to the bathroom."[『ルネの夢解き事典』、p152] Although an extreme example, one company executive reported "I make sure never to get anywhere near a bookstore."[『本の雑誌』41号、p5] Regarding the threat of incontinence, the thinker Tatsuru Uchida has expressed it as "in the worst case scenario, entailing a traumatic scene from which it would be difficult to restore one's honor as an adult member of society."[『読売新聞』2006年11月26日付朝刊、p11]
Pathological condition and observations
Although there has been much examination by numerous experts and thinkers as to the mechanisms of the phenomenon,[『なぜ本屋さんでトイレに行きたくなるのか』、p52] a consensus of opinion has yet to be reached.[『東京新聞』2012年4月29日付朝刊、p27] The author Junichiro Uemae has commented that at first glance there appears to be no common thread, in a manner akin to the hypothetical concept of "the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil setting off a tornado in Texas."[『文藝春秋』1998年12月17日号、p94]
To date there has been little attempt to scientifically validate the phenomenon, such that the state of observation currently does not extend much beyond experts and thinkers asserting their own theories among each other, theories which are based on subjective judgment.[ウェブページ：“『本心と抵抗』――売れ行き不振の理由に関する検討”]
Standard explanatory models
People with a history of experiencing the Mariko Aoki phenomenon have a tendency to glean from these experiences certain notions of what they feel could be causes and then use those notions to seek to avoid being beset by the symptoms. These kinds of "notions" are referred to in diagnostics as patient explanatory models, and can assist in elucidating the pathological condition.
Many of the opinions look for a cause in chemical or physical stimulants existing in the bookstore environment. Mariko Aoki herself has offered as explanatory models "that the smell of new books upregulates metabolism" or "that the defecatory nerve center is stimulated by tracking your eyes across the spines of books."[『本の雑誌』40号、p55]An editor of Book Magazine believes that experiencing a defecation urge at certain bookstores is often due to the abdomen becoming being cooled as a result of the bookstores economizing on heating.[『本の雑誌』41号、p5] In contrast to this, a column on the website of secondhand bookstore chain Book Off stated that "it is because the air conditioning is too cold."[ウェブページ：“本屋でトイレに行きたくなる「青木まりこ現象」の謎] Other explanatory models than these include "paper allergy,"[『週刊平凡』1984年8月31日号、p100] "the scent of the ink unique to the color pages of centerfolds stimulates the bowel,"[『散歩の達人』2005年10月号、p21] "the orderliness of books arranged on the shelves stimulates the brain,"[『キネマ旬報』2003年7月下旬号、p184] "reading printed characters stimulates the cranial nerves, which issue a command to the lower body"[ウェブページ：“本屋に行くと催すのはなぜ”] "the tactile sensation of holding a book evokes the defecatory act"[『思想の科学』1993年3月号、p125] "the relaxed upright posture when standing to read books instore causes feces to move downwards,"[『散歩の達人』2005年10月号、p21] and "because it is the person's custom to always fill up their empty stomach before going to a bookstore."[『本の雑誌』40号、p93]
On the other hand, there is also a view that intrinsic factors such as individuals' mental status are the cause. For example, one university student who reported experiencing bodily distress in large bookstores and whose symptoms resolved upon entering a narrow bathroom cubicle interpreted the symptoms as being due to a type of agorapbhobia.[『本の雑誌』41号、p6] A 27 year old worker living in Kyoto City who struggled with bookstore defecation urges heard that his steam locomotive obsessed friend, by contrast, had experience being struck by sudden defecation urges whenever locomotives approached, and thus considers that the "thrilling" mood felt when you are close to something you like could be related to this phenomenon.[『本の雑誌』41号、p4] An Onojo City-based 26-year-old female piano teacher with a book bowel tendency has reflected that it may be due to the ethereal mental state when standing to read books in bookstores, one that is a mix of both relaxation and nervous excitement.[『本の雑誌』41号、p4]
Olfactory stimulation theory
A theory had existed for a long time that some chemical substances contained in the paper or ink of books emit a smell that induces the defecation urge by way of acute sensory stimulation. According to the Japanese essayist Mariko Ishibashi, this was "the leading theory" as of 1995.[『週刊朝日』1995年7月21日号、p125] It also has a strong foothold in the online community as a dominant theory.[『本心と抵抗 自発性の精神病理』、p1] At the same time, it is also a theory that has been subject to much rebuttal.
The television program The Real Side of Un'nan (TBS TV) conducted experiments from 1998 to 1999 to see whether the smell of ink could induce a defecation urge, but no results were obtained that supported the theory.[『アンアン』1999年2月19日号、p60]
In 2006, the philosopher Kenji Tsuchiya once attempted an experiment in which he gathered together some freshly delivered newspapers and newly purchased books, and then covered his face in the newspapers and books for 10 minutes each while doing deep breathing. Ultimately, no defecation urge eventuated, and instead he fell asleep with his face covered by the reading materials.[『週刊文春』2006年8月31日号、p90] Based on this experience, Tsuchiya contests that it can hardly be the case that paper, ink, adhesives, or some other substance from which books are composed could be the cause of the defecation urge[『週刊文春』2006年8月31日号、p90].
Shinichiro Namiki, a researcher of paranormal phenomena, held that this theory is difficult to sustain since (i) symptoms are not observed in workers at places such as printeries or bookstores and (ii) symptoms can occur at places unrelated to the smell of books, such as rental video stores.[『最強の都市伝説3』、p187]
There is also a theory on the Internet that seeks to pin the cause on a conspiracy by the paper manufacturing industry.[ウェブページ：“本屋と便意の謎”][ウェブページ：“本屋でトイレに行きたくなる「青木まりこ現象」の謎”] According to this theory, the industry mixes large quantities of certain chemical substances into books and other paper products handled in day-to-day life, and these chemicals have the effect of stimulating the defecation urge, which increases the demand for toilet paper.[ウェブページ：“本屋でトイレに行きたくなる「青木まりこ現象」の謎”]
Conditioned response theories
Issue 41 of Book Magazine contains an interpretative model based on the notion of a conditioned response.
The manga author Sadao Shoji has stated that he often experiences a defecation urge when looking at street maps or atlases, and that this occurs not only when in bookstores but also when at home.[『本の雑誌』41号、p6] He has remarked that since the times that he usually looks at maps are before he has to go out somewhere, and since he has a habit of using the toilet before leaving the house, his mind became conditioned to react in that way.[『本の雑誌』41号、p13]
There is also an interpretation that it is simply "because people always read on the toilet when at home."[『散歩の達人』2005年10月号、p21][『思想の科学』1993年3月号、p125][『Kansaiザテレビジョン』1998年10月24-30日号、p82] The psychiatrist Kazuo Mishima interprets people with a book-bowel tendency as probably being people who by reading books on the toilet acquire a Pavlovian conditioning of "book reading → bowel moving."[『Kansaiザテレビジョン』1998年10月24-30日号、p82] There are some people who say that they are unable to successfully move their bowels unless they read something,[『本の雑誌』41号、p11] while some people so completely link defecation with reading that they "are able to finish off their reading readily when they have diarrhea but struggle to make progress in reading when they are constipated."[『思想の科学』1993年3月号、p125] However, since it is not the case that all persons with a book-bowel tendency have the habit of reading while on the toilet, this theory has been criticized as not offering a wholly integrative explanation.[『なぜ本屋さんでトイレに行きたくなるのか』、p56]
In response to a request for an interview by the editorial team of Book Magazine in 1985, the psychiatrist Masao Nakazawa attempted to explain the set of symptoms by using the term "hyperresponsiveness."[『本の雑誌』41号、p14] In hyperresponsive reactions to stress, the sympathetic nerves take precedence, ordinarily leading to a constipative tendency.[『本の雑誌』41号、p14] However, it is considered possible, in special circumstances—for example, when shown a glass of cold milk—for the gut to experiencing a loosening by way of a type of conditioned response mechanism.[『本の雑誌』41号、p14] Nakazawa suggested that a similar mechanism could be involved in the Mariko Aoki phenomenon, but he refrained from providing a clear answer to the question, saying that "it needs to be looked into more first."[『本の雑誌』41号、p14]
The Japanese orthopedic surgeon and author Naruhito Fujita has said in relation to the Mariko Aoki phenomenon that the functions of the nervous system on the intestines are not as simple as something that can be explained in dualistic terms with the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.[ウェブページ：“便秘を改善する秘策 自律神経ダイエット・その1”]
Trauma from childhood experiences
Among the discussions on the topic that took place in the television program The Real Side of Un'nan from 1998 to 1999, a theory was put forward that a conditioned defecation urge may be related to the trauma of a childhood experience,[『アンアン』1999年2月19日号、p60] specifically, that the urge results from the flashback of a childhood memory of the embarrassment of soiling oneself in front of a public toilet. However, the psychologist who introduced this theory considered it to be a "lame explanation."
Mariko Aoki has said that she was initially skeptical about a "defecation urge experienced in bookstores," but after hearing about it from her friend she herself soon presented with the symptoms.[『本の雑誌』40号、p55] In this way, it has been known from the outset that the phenomenon has a tendency to be transmitted from person to person.[『本の雑誌』41号、p15] In fact, despite the five members of the Book Magazine editorial team who reported on the phenomenon all being non book-boweled initially, three of them had developed a book bowel tendency by the time that their investigations into the topic had concluded.[『本の雑誌』41号、p15]
Certain types of psychiatric disorders such as delusion can be transmitted between people who are intimately close such as mothers and daughters or romantic couples by way of a kind of "false belief." In his book "Why Do People Feel the Need to Go When They're In a Bookstore?" (2012, Arimine Shoten), the gastroenterological surgeon Masayoshi Ido touches on the Mariko Aoki phenomenon by stating that the "past experience and future expectation of having experienced a defecation urge," the "supporting of this by knowledge that many others have had the same experience," and a "false belief that you will experience the same urge as other people" can have a psychosomatic impact by way of a conditioned response (a placebo effect).[『なぜ本屋にいるともよおすのか』、p136] Ido acknowledges that this alone is unable to explain all aspects of the phenomenon as a whole, but considers that it at least accounts for part of the connection between bookstores and the defecation urge.[『なぜ本屋にいるともよおすのか』、p137]
On the other hand, there is also a report that casts a negative light on this theory. An online reporter conducted an experiment in which, in order to verify the effectiveness of bookstores in alleviating constipation, four constipated females were sent to a "trendy book cafe" to eat and drink.[ウェブページ：“便秘女子必見!? とある場所で女子会をひらいてみた”] In order to prevent against the effects of false belief, the subjects were not told about the actual nature of the experiment (a blinded experiment).[ウェブページ：“便秘女子必見!? とある場所で女子会をひらいてみた”] The result of the experiment was that, except for one subject with severe constipation, three of the test subjects soon achieved bowel movements.[ウェブページ：“便秘女子必見!? とある場所で女子会をひらいてみた”]
Altered mental state theories
Feelings of nervous tension or frantic frustration
In an essay from 1981, the poet and novelist Shoichi Nejime confessed that he "is a person who experiences a defecation urge when he enters bookstores." Using the metaphor that these people "are the type of people who place themselves in the narrow gap between the borders of genre" (for example, a person who, despite being a poet, takes the attitude of seeking to avoid a literary odor in his work), Nejime holds that it is this type of people who possess "the sweat of the dynamism of the unconscious" (the power to move the minds of their readers).[『ねじめ正一詩集』、p116]
The essayist Mariko Ishibashi stated in a 1995 essay that the defecation urge is induced by the nervous tension generated when a "flood of information" pours into one's field of vision.[『週刊朝日』1995年7月21日号、p125]
Author Takashi Higaki has stated that one of his highly pleasing daily duties is to buy up a large number of books at the bookstore as part of his work, but that he "doesn't like hanging around in a bookstore for a long time because it triggers a defecation urge."[『エコノミスト』1997年11月11日号、p11]
In 1997 when The Yomiuri Shimbun interviewed two novelists, the first—Mariko Koike—proffered the theory that "the feeling of nervous tension provoked by being in a sacred place in which knowledge is collected sets off peristaltic movement," while the second—Jiro Asada—indicated a belief that "the mental pressure in response to printed words is the cause."[『読売新聞』1997年10月9日付朝刊、p29]
On a 1998 episode of the television program The Real Side of Un'nan (broadcast October 28, 1998 on TBS Television), the novelist and lyricist Seiko Ito offered the hypothesis that the feeling of frantic frustration that "I have to decide which one to buy" gives rise to a defecation urge.[『Kansaiザテレビジョン』1998年10月24-30日号、p82]
The thinker Tatsuru Uchida has stated that he is assailed by a defecation urge the moment that he reaches the state of an "academic high" when, after the plotting out of the content of an academic article has been protracted over a long period, an idea suddenly comes into his head.[『読売新聞』2006年11月26日付朝刊、p11]
The astrologist Rene van Dahl Watanabe stated that intellectual appetite and curiosity are characteristics of bookstores, theorizing that the feeling of a type of nervous tension in response to these characteristics provoke the series of symptoms.[『ルネの夢解き事典』、p151]
Touching on the phenomenon in which hamsters and other small animals defecate when they feel fear or nervous tension,[ウェブページ：“便秘を改善する秘策 自律神経ダイエット・その2”] the orthopedic surgeon and author Naruhito Fujita has explained the similar points between that and the phenomenon of a defecation urge being triggered by the "exciting and thrilling feeling" of being in a bookstore.[ウェブページ：“便秘を改善する秘策 自律神経ダイエット・その3”]
- Shibuya, Shozo (2014). Manga de wakaru shinrigaku nyumon [A manga introduction to psychology]. Japan: Ikeda Shoten. p. 97. ISBN 978-4262154152.
- Hon no Zasshi (in Japanese), Hon no zasshi sha (40), 1985 Missing or empty
- Hon no zasshi (in Japanese), Hon no zasshi sha, no. 41, 1985 Missing or empty
- "書店にいると便意を催す 伝説の症状裏付け？" [Visiting a bookstore makes you want to defecate], Tokyo Shimbun (in Japanese), p. 27, April 19, 2012, archived from the original on 2012-05-09, retrieved 2014-05-13
- "『青木まりこ現象』不滅の掟" ["The Mariko Aoki phenomenon" - The eternal rule], Aera (in Japanese), Asahi Shimbun-sha, p. 74, November 17, 2003
- Book Magazine Special Crab-gaited Journalist Team (本の雑誌特別ガニマタ取材班) (1985). "Pursuing the mysteries and truths of the "Mariko Aoiki Phenomenon" that is currently shaking the bookstore industry!! (いま書店界を震撼させる『青木まりこ現象』の謎と真実を追う！！)". Book Magazine (本の雑誌). Book Magazine Company (本の雑誌社) (Vol. 41): 4.
- Book Magazine Editorial Department, ed. (本の雑誌編集部（編）) (1985). "We received many letters--ranging from angry to complimentary (怒りの鉄拳からおホメの言葉までたくさんのハガキがきた)]". Top selections from "Book Magazine" No. 7, a supplement to Book Magazine (『「本の雑誌」傑作選』7 〈別冊 本の雑誌〉). Book Magazine Company (本の雑誌社): 80–93. ISBN 978-4938463083.
- citation: p.85 of 傑作選7
- 傑作7 p.85
- 活字探偵団 増補版 p.117
- Aera 2003 Nov p.74
- Book Magazine Vol 41, p.3
- 活字探偵団 増補版 p 118
- Book Magazine Vol 41 p. 5
- Library News Vol. 16 No. 4 p. 2
- Aera 2003 p 74
- 活字 p 119
- 活字 p 118
- 傑作選 p 85
- 週刊朝日 1995 7月21日号 p 125
- 東京新聞 2013年4月29日付朝刊 p 27
- 読売新聞 1997年10月9日付朝刊 p 29
- ステラ 1995年7月26日号 p 55
- サンデー毎日 1998年12月6日号 p 170
- アンアン 1999年2月19日号 p 60
- Kansaiザテレビジョン 1995年10月24-30日号 p 82
- TVガイド 1998年10月24-30日号 p 87
- TV Guide 1999 1月16-22日号 p87
- 『なぜ本屋さんでトイレに行きたくなるのか』 p 52
- 『本心と抵抗 自発性の精神病理』p 6
- 『潮』2002年3月号 p 292
- 『最強の都市伝説３』 p 186
- 『アエラ』2003年11月17日号 p 74
- Wire Action. “THEクイズ神”. gooテレビ番組. 2015年11月2日閲覧。
- hiroshism74のツイート (390172750553169920)。2013年10月15日10:50。2016年4月7日閲覧。
- ウェブページ：“便秘女子必見!? とある場所で女子会をひらいてみた”
- ウェブページ：“あれってホント？ 「本屋で急に便意を感じる」の真相を働く女子に聞いてみた”
- 『豊田穣文学 戦記全集 第十巻』、p395
- 『活字探偵団 増補版』p120
- 『活字探偵団 増補版』p117
- 『本心と抵抗 自発性の精神病理』、p22
- 『本心と抵抗 自発性の精神病理』、p28