Hikikomori is a common occurrence in Japan. They could be defined as people pulled inwards or confined. This group is represented by reclusive adults or adolescents that find solace in withdrawal from society, thus preferring seclusion. Half a million people in Japan live the confined life of Hikikomori, which could also be looked at as modern hermits. These people normally fail to leave their houses or bedrooms for periods longer than one year with others taking more than seven years confined in their apartments. It takes years for them to seek help or even accept the help offered through their parents or the community. The reasons behind the conditions might not be well known or documented, but suggestions state that it is triggered by pressure.
These people exhibit different characteristics as compared to normal people since they tend to exempt themselves from society. Some hide from the high responsibilities and expectations of society and their families towards them (Gent, 2019). Japan especially tends to have people working hard to keep their families afloat, thus making those who end up being Hikikomoris to feel like they could not fulfill or manage the same responsibilities (Gent, 2019). They, therefore, prefer solitude as their parents and families continue supporting them. The condition was previously thought to affect only young men, but recent research shows that it affects women as well as older men. Besides, some housewives have been documented to suffer the condition.
The awareness of mental illness in Japan remains unprogressive; thus, such people often get stigmatized and shamed. In some places, discussions about the Hikikomori never take place. The Hikikomori, therefore,feel deep shame since their ability to work like ordinary people tends to be limited. This leads to common references to them as lazy; hence, they end up feeling remorseful because they lack in terms of contributing to society, hence failures to their parents (Conrad, 2018). Most Hikikomori live with their family, and negativity is a common occurrence, whereby they seek external intervention for them to be forced out of the house (Conrad, 2017). Society perceives them as potential criminals, mentally ill, or social burdens.
The criticism of these people could be termed as unfair because it is normally not a personal choice. They are pushed to such measures by different factors, including pressure and fear of failure. It could also be looked at as mental illness, hence the need to treat them with love and patience and help them to overcome their fear and the feeling of inadequacy. Some sisters for rent in Japan help the Hikikomori out of their solitude at a fee, and some have documented success (Butet-Roch, 2018). Even though the process might take a lot of time and patience, at the end of the day, it is successful. At times, they communicate through letters and technology because the people in isolation might be shy of direct conversations.
Previously, the situation was assumed to be exceptional to Japan, but current studies bring out the fact that it has been witnessed across the world. Korea, which is a neighboring country, documents an estimated number of at least 33,000 socially withdrawn adolescents (Conrad, 2018). This caters for 0.03% of the total population. Hong Kong also has 1.9% of the population with the same issue, and it also appears in the United States, Italy, France, Spain, and many other countries (Concard, 2018). The UK has also documented some people mainly aged between 15-30 years living in solitude.
Japan could be termed as the mother of the Hikikomori, but the condition is well spread across the world. It is a social disorder that tends to come along in life, sometimes even without an individual’s realization. Instead of stigmatizing and victimizing them, society should look for ways to help them and encourage them since most of their problems are rooted in the feeling of inadequacy. The condition could be eliminated through different social tactics, including communication.
Butet-Roch L. National Geographic. 14 February 2018. Pictures reveal the isolated lives of Japan’ssocial recluses. Retrieved fromhttps://www.nationalgeographic.com/photography/proof/2018/february/japan-hikikomori-isolation-society/
Conrad A. 16 November 2018. People in Japan are increasingly shutting themselves off from the society. Retrieved fromhttps://www.gq-magazine.co.uk/article/hikikomori-japan
Gent E. BBC. 29 January 2019. The Plight of Japan’s Modern Hermits. Retrieved fromhttps://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190129-the-plight-of-japans-modern-hermits