Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?
BBC -- Jul 05

As many as a million young people in Japan are thought to remain holed up in their homes - sometimes for decades at a time. Why?

For Hide, the problems started when he gave up school.

"I started to blame myself and my parents also blamed me for not going to school. The pressure started to build up," he says.

"Then, gradually, I became afraid to go out and fearful of meeting people. And then I couldn't get out of my house."

Gradually, Hide relinquished all communication with friends and eventually, his parents. To avoid seeing them he slept through the day and sat up all night, watching TV.

"I had all kinds of negative emotions inside me," he says. "The desire to go outside, anger towards society and my parents, sadness about having this condition, fear about what would happen in the future, and jealousy towards the people who were leading normal lives."

Hide had become "withdrawn" or hikikomori.

In Japan, hikikomori, a term that's also used to describe the young people who withdraw, is a word that everyone knows.

Tamaki Saito was a newly qualified psychiatrist when, in the early 1990s, he was struck by the number of parents who sought his help with children who had quit school and hidden themselves away for months and sometimes years at a time. These young people were often from middle-class families, they were almost always male, and the average age for their withdrawal was 15.

It might sound like straightforward teenage laziness. Why not stay in your room while your parents wait on you? But Saito says sufferers are paralysed by profound social fears.

"They are tormented in the mind," he says. "They want to go out in the world, they want to make friends or lovers, but they can't."

Symptoms vary between patients. For some, violent outbursts alternate with infantile behaviour such as pawing at the mother's body. Other patients might be obsessive, paranoid and depressed.

News source: BBC

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