Hikikomori: young people permanently locked in their rooms

If a person is voluntarily confined to the home and has not engaged in any work or academic or social activity for at least six months, they may be in pain. Hikikomori syndrome.

What is Hikikomori Syndrome?

The term Hikikomori was coined by the psychiatrist Tamaki Saito, In the year 2000 and means moving away, be confined. It is defined as a voluntary form of social isolation or self-incarceration, due to both personal and social factors. It mainly affects young adolescents already sensitive, shy, introverted, with few friendships and a perception of the outside world as something violent that constantly attacks them. To all these precedents are added the bad relations within the family. There is a higher incidence in men.

His life takes place in a room from which they do not leave, take refuge normally in a virtual worldSurrounded by video game consoles and the Internet, although recent studies have shown that only 10% of people with this disease use the Internet to interact with other people.

social isolation

This process of isolation is gradual and begins when they begin to lock themselves in their rooms for longer, as they become engrossed in the internet, stop screaming and hang out with their few friends, and begin to neglect their studies. This is where this kind of social suicide.

They do everything without leaving their homes, even changing their daily rhythms: they sleep during the dayThey eat in the afternoon and spend the night playing video games or watching TV. They also neglect their hygiene and do not even communicate with their loved ones. Some frighten their parents and behave aggressively; others are overwhelmed by the sadness, obsession, anxiety and depression triggered by the closure, leading to suicide in some cases.

Although this phenomenon originates from Japan and is associated with demanding, competitive and individualistic Japanese culture, it has gradually spread like a pandemic to the rest of the world, albeit with different characteristics in each society. In Spain, this syndrome, also called “closed door”, has already accumulated more than 200 cases in recent years.. In Japan, those affected number in the millions.

The reason for not leaving the house is due to the desire to be alone and a feeling of apathy towards the outside world coupled with the fear of stepping out of their protective environment, their little bubble of safety.

Types of Hikikomori

While all Hikikomori cases have isolation in common, not all experience it in the same way or to the same degree. For example, el junhikikomori o pre-hikikomori he goes out from time to time or attends school or university, but avoiding any form of social relationship.

the Social hikikomori, Who rejects work and studies, maintains certain social relations, even via the Internet. Tachisukumi-gata, on the other hand, has a marked social phobia and feels paralyzed with fear.

Finally, there would be the case ofl NetogehaijinLiterally translated as “computer zombie” which are fully incarcerated people who spend all hours of the day lying awake using the computer or other virtual media available to them.

Causes of Hikikomori

It seems impossible for a young person to be able to confine himself for months, even years within four walls without wanting to have some relation with the world, does not it?

The causes likely to trigger this disorder are currently only hypotheses. Some think it is the Technology and the virtual world in which young people live surrounded, losing contact with reality.

Others, however, point out family factors (Excessive pressure from parents for their child to be successful in life and little communication in the family for) i socioeconomics: social in terms of the pressure from society towards conformism and uniformity and rejection of what is different (this happens very clearly in Japanese society), and economic in terms of parental working hours, this which prevents them from spending time with their children and does not allow them to set up appropriate family communication.

However, looking for a single cause for a social phenomenon like this would be a mistake, as it is highly likely to be multi-determined.

Symptoms of Hikikomori

The main symptoms that could announce the isolation are:

  • Refusal to go to school due to numerous cases of bullying at school
  • Total loss of friends or romantic disappointment
  • Poor basic social skills
  • low self-esteem
  • depressive personality
  • Excessive dependence on family relationships
  • Insomnia or change in daily rhythm (sleeping during the day and staying active at night)
  • Pressure from the family to fulfill their role in society (study, look for work) and meet their parents’ expectations or plans for them
  • Little or no tolerance for frustration
  • Etc.

Effects of Hikikomori on people

Voluntary detention for months or years can have significant health effects, both physical and mental.

A physical level the body suffers from the effects of not exercising or eating a balanced diet such as anemia, fragile joints, wounds lying too long without moving, etc.

A psychological level, The absence of contact can cause the youngster to lose his almost completely social skills relate to their fellows, while experiencing constant feelings of insecurity and guilt, Which reinforces their behavior to remain closed.

Treatment for Hikikomori

Standard treatment has not yet been put in place to tackle this problem, as it is a relatively new disorder and in the confrontation between Eastern and Western approaches.

In Japan, the country of origin of this social disorder, it is forbidden for the affected person to come out of their isolation by their own means and gradually, without putting pressure on them and trying to make them regain consciousness. By contrast, in Western countries, experts recommend a firmer stance and get to the root of the problem, forcing young Hikikomori out of his bedroom.

In the West more specifically, we can point out two main approaches to therapy:

1. The medico-psychiatric method

This type of treatment treats the problem as a mental or behavioral disorder requiring hospitalization and drug use. Its objective is to reorganize the family relationship with the patient, to encourage communication strategies, so that the parents are also involved in the therapy. When the young person has recovered enough to go to the clinic on his own, he begins to work with psychotherapy sessions.

2. The psychosocial method

This method highlights the need for psychological support to help the Hikikomori victim out of his confinement. It is usually chosen to take the young adolescent away from home, later hosting in a community with other boys and girls who are suffering from the same problem, to encourage coexistence, human contact, relearning of social and communication skills, etc. All this through activities that interest them and that they can share as a group. It seems that self-help groups have become a key element in the social reintegration of those affected.

Diagnostic Hikikomori differential

Due to its broad, undefined symptoms today, this disorder can often be confused with others such as Agoraphobia, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, syndrome Diogenes, Etc. To give an example, Hikikomori differs from agoraphobia in that in their protected environment they can lead a normalized life. Receive visits, call for phone, etc. An agoraphobic isolates himself out of fear, even if he wants to be able to be part of society and go out, while the hikikomori rejects this option and voluntarily closes.

Research by (2002) suggests that compulsive behaviors inherent in OCD or other behaviors typical of the disorders mentioned above are nothing more than side effects of Hikikomori. This therefore suggests that the differential diagnosis of Hikikomori from depression, OCD, schizophrenia or any other obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as early detection are paramount for the rapid recovery of the person, as people affected by Hikikomori do not not suffer from a disorder per se. In most cases, their behaviors can be logically explained by the life they lead, the impact society has on them, the culture they are immersed in, and their family and personal environment. These are normal people in a very controversial situation

The syndrome arrives in Spain

In a 2016 article, psychologist Jonathan García-Allen echoed the increase in recorded cases in Spain. So it seems that this disorder is starting to be a worldwide phenomenon.

“Hikikomori cases are increasing in Spain”

Documentary on Hikikomori

This documentary can help you better understand the Hikikomori phenomenon.

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