01 April 2005

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Q & A about Hikikomori Part 2 <p> I was contacted via email by someone interested in the topic of hikikomori and posed me several excellent questions. I thought I’d post the questions and my answers to the blog as the answers might prove useful to others looking into the hikikomori issue.... Dziesinski, I am writing an essay on hikikomori, and as you worked on the subject, I would like to ask you a few questions about that: My apologies.... I hope you will find these answers helpful (and that I got them to you in time). Question 2: Do the withdrawn communicate with the society through the internet?... It has changed recently, but I suspect that is because of what I think is a ‘copycat’ phenomenon: young people fed up with their lives emulate true hikikomori but continue to communicate with the outside world on some level. Though at some point, these people become ‘true hikikomori’ inadvertently when the social stigma of the condition settles in. However, true withdrawal is complete social isolation to the point that the person begins to become developmentally and socially stunted in his/her personal growth as they lack any human interaction. After several months or years, such withdrawn people stagnate mentally, though I would argue that this is not a mental illness as I have observed withdrawn people, who after several years of hikikomori behavior, soak up new interactions and learning like a sponge. Once out of the isolated environment and with guided help, they normalize quite quickly— within six months to a year. </p>
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Q & A about Hikikomori Part 4 <p> I was contacted via email by someone interested in the topic of hikikomori and posed me several excellent questions. I thought I’d post the questions and my answers to the blog as the answers might prove useful to others looking into the hikikomori issue.... Dziesinski, I am writing an essay on hikikomori, and as you worked on the subject, I would like to ask you a few questions about that: My apologies.... Question 4: Do you know whether hikikomori can reach out of their isolation by themselves, without professional help, or not?... Usually, this does not happen as long as the hikikomori remains in the environment that brought on the onset of the withdrawal: An unforgiving school system, parents who are too soft in their discipline, middle income families who can afford to ‘allow’ their child to go into isolation, a society that stigmatizes any perceived sickness so the family feels the pressure to hide their ‘sick’ member from the community. Change these factors and pull the youth out of the environment in a measured way and they can begin to recover from the stagnation that isolation has wrought. However, not much can be expected if the child is left in the smothering shadow of an overly acquiescent mother, which is often the case with male hikikomori (look up ‘amae’). While they can’t often reach out themselves due to the environment, ‘professional help’, IE psychologists or doctors, aren’t necessarily needed: some of the most effective support groups for hikikomori are volunteer or private schools as they don’t try to medicate hikikomori, but treat the malady like the social problem that it appears to be. Remove a hikikomori from his isolated environment, socialize him through peer interaction, and most respond favorably. </p>

Michael Dziesinski

I'm a University of Hawaii PhD in Sociology discussing youth issues in Japanese society in this blog.

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