Hikikomori: Why do people isolate themselves?

Is it not alarming that students lock themselves away and completely cut themselves off from society? This condition is Hikikomori, which is prevalent in Japan amongst people between the ages of 18 and 39, and approximately 540,000 people are affected by it. These are the people that have shut themselves away from society completely. They withdraw to their rooms and cut off all social contact, even with their family. Why is it that these individuals are deciding to lock themselves away in their room to be away from society? What can be done to help them get back into society?

One of the theories blames the societal pressure that men in Japan have to deal with everyday. They have pressure on them to be breadwinners, and to follow the path that their parents have chosen for them instead of their own dreams. The problem with this is that Japan’s economy has taken a downturn, and because of that, people have to get part-time jobs and even university graduates are not guaranteed jobs anymore. When these individuals fail to meet expectations that are set for them, they feel as if they have disappointed their families and lock themselves away. A lot of them also suffer from other disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, developmental disorders or personality disorders.

Is there a way to help these people get out and start living normal lives and help them adjust back into society, with which they could not fit in before? Many support centers have started to help them socialize and take small steps toward becoming an active member of society. It may take a long time for them to start socializing again, but it is worth the effort. Virtual Japanese high schools have started so that people with Hikikomori do not have to go out but can start by being social online. The support centers also help them meet others with Hikikomori, so that they can see that they are not alone, and people do understand what they are going through. There needs to be more research done on this topic so that they can be provided with the most efficient help.

Is Hikikomori just a Japanese based disorder, or are there individuals in other parts of the world that are also affected by it? Research has shown that there have been cases of Hikikomori found in Spain, Oman, the United States, Canada, Italy, the United Kingdom, France, Taiwan and South Korea. This shows that Hikikomori is not just a Japanese based disorder, even if a majority of the Hikikomori victims are found in Japan. Societal and economic pressures are prevalent and growing on youth everywhere in the world so Hikikomori may become a growing problem in the coming years.

Therefore, more research needs to be done to understand the occurrence of Hikikomori, and how it can be effectively treated. It may not be as widely spread throughout the rest of the world, but cases have been found in individuals outside of Japan. We must understand it before we can help those suffering, and we need to do so before it becomes a bigger problem.

Leave a Reply