An After Thought, Healthy & Well

Hikikomori Phenomenon- The Unsolicited Self-Isolation!

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.

Hikikomori self-isolation
Withdrawn individual: Hikikomori self-isolation

This word in Japanese literally means “being confined or withdrawn”.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.

Hikikomori is an extreme self-isolation
Hikikomori self-isolation is an extreme behaviour

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.
Quote about Hikikomori self-isolation
Hikikomori self-isolation

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.

Hikikomori self-isolation: Share It!
Hikikomori self-isolation: Share It!

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(19) Comments

  1. This is such a useful and meaningfup post. Its really good to know that self isolation for longer periods is actually a form of recognised pattern and that there are ways to deal with it.

  2. I had never heard of Hikikomori syndrome. With the way the world is going, and depression being on the rise, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see more people inflicted by this. Sad.

  3. Cindy says:

    Wow this is something else. It’s good to know this is made aware in many places. We should look after our kids emotionally at the least.

  4. hikikomori is another type of isolation. Never know about this psychological phenomenon. Japan has seen so much of these kind of isolation. Informative post

  5. I had no clue what this condition is called Judy but I di know a couple of such people in India too who got better with help from a counsellor. I really liked the topics you have chosen this AtoZ

  6. Thanks to you, I’ve learned a new word. At a time when we complain about social distancing it is hard to imagine someone living their entire life like this. Your pointers will help identify any hikikomori around me.

  7. I believe many of us go through the phase of unlove or loneliness once in lifetime because everyone’s life is not perfect but what I have learnt is to be positive and live life.

  8. The story seems very interesting to watch . I am looking forward to watch this show on Netflix . awesome .

  9. Sonal Mathur says:

    Hikkimoroi is new term to me and yes this self isolation with little of stress can lead to huge problem.

  10. I’m hearing of this concept of Hikikomori for the first time and I’m astonished of people can really stay indoors for more than 6 months.

  11. I had read a little about this hikikomori effect.. but your post brought a deeper insight on the subject … rather in my own society i have seen few youth living a life of complete self isolation & have often wondered.. this is all due to our over indulgence in virtual world i feel & kind of scaring too

  12. Never heard of Hikikomori people or the syndrome before. Good that you are spreading awareness about it. It’s important to identify and help people.

  13. I understood the concept of hikikomori through a movie on Netflix and I was amazed by it. Yes, we are locked but we are locked up with our families not alone. So I found it bit weird.

  14. Khushboo says:

    hikikomori is another type of isolation. I never heard of this before. Its surprising to know people can self isolate for so long

  15. What a gorgeous, Fulfilling read! This comes as news to me since I have never heard of the term. Thanks for sharing, it’s amazing!

  16. I came across “Hikikomori” through some online article. This is quite a detailed one. One thing to overcome or help a closed one from this state would be trying to talk with them during difficult situations. This state is quite extreme and I hope no one ever faces this in their life 🙂

  17. Whoa! What an amazing post. I read word to word. I am gonna check for that movie. And read up more on this concept. I am excessively involved with books. 🙈

    1. I hope you are stepping out of the home sometimes.. 😉

  18. Wow! Lockdown has isolated families and it’s also quite stressful…I can’t really imagine how hikikomori must be…Thanks for sharing,

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