The most terrible poverty is loneliness and the feeling of being unloved.Mother Theresa
World today stands restrained, indoors. Precaution against an uninvited, unforeseen pandemic has forced self-isolation on all. The roads are vacated. Malls & theatres closed. Human beings, the superior ones, have been castigated by nature for whatever they did to the latter. But there are another group of people, for whom classifying as a ‘group’ would be a paradox in itself. They are Hikikomori.
This word in Japanese literally means “being confined or withdrawn”. Going by its meaning in the truest form the person remains confined to his room or to his home for years together. It is an out and out shut down of doors; leaving no scope of movement to the outside world. In Japan more than a million, youngsters are living a hikikomori life. They are also given the name of a ‘Modern-day Hermit’.
This mental condition first came into notice in the early 1990s by a psychologist, Tamaki Saito. One of the prime reasons construed for this was the recession that occurred in Japan at that time. In those days, it was more common in teenager boys who are now adults in the age group of 35+. Perhaps, because of this fact, in this country, Hikikomori people today are usually grouped between 15-39 years of age.
According to a recent article published by noted psychologists in January 2020, the mental condition is not restricted to young adults only. It is also prevalent in adults above 40s and senior citizens. Furthermore, the mental condition is not restricted to Japan only. Of lately, people from different countries having similar symptoms of self-isolation are being reported.
Here are 4 updated pointers about Hikikomori people. One can refer these to identify a Hikikomori person or an about to be, in your family or neighbourhood.
- For a person to qualify as a hikikomori the duration of continuous social isolation should be at least 6 months. People coming out of their homes once in 2‐3 days per week are classified as mild ones. While those who rarely leave their home 1 day/week or less are moderate level Hikikomori. The severe level hikikomori individuals rarely leave a single room.
- In contrast to the earlier definition, the prerequisite for the avoidance of social situations (like meetings, events etc.) and relationships has been removed. Hikikomori people may have few meaningful social relationships and little social interaction.
- Distress or functional impairment should be prudently assessed. The diminishing tendency in the individual’s activities is crucial to hikikomori being a pathological condition. Subjective distress may be absent. Usually, in the beginning, these people feel alright with the functional impairment but with time, as the world around them change they develop low self-esteem, loneliness and more.
- According to the new definition of hikikomori, such socially self-isolated people may have psychiatric disorders. This fact is the most concerning aspect of hikikomori.
Triggers for a person to get in Hikikomori Self-isolation state:
- Failed relationships.
- Deteriorating career
- Pressure of family
- Excessive involvement with social media, books, video games and television.
Read about Designing a Positive Micro-Universe around Your Life – Click Here!
The Way Forward:
In Japan, few NGOs with a focus towards hikikomori are helping such people for bringing them out of their homes. ‘Rent-a-Sister’ is another concept that is aimed to help these individuals get better. Professional counselling can be of help.
The recently released Netflix movie in India starring Ali Fazal & Jim Sarbh ‘House Arrest’ is based on this concept.
Disclaimer: This article is a research piece. Reference is taken from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/wps.20705 . I am not a subject expert, reader’s discretion solicited.
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