02 April 2005

Q & A about Hikikomori Part 3 <p> 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.... Question 2: Do you think hikikomori suffer from their isolation? I believe that it is pain dealing with society that drives them into their isolation in the first place and because that pain is never dealt with, it festers inside them as they avoid it, ignore it, deny it, and hide from it. That anguish builds over the time of their isolation and with no solutions to their social problem, they ‘over analyze’ the their problem in their heads as ‘what if?’... However, since they are in complete isolation, they are never able to act on their ‘solutions’ as they are still gripped by fear of the outside and the consequences of those very same ‘what if?“ questions they constantly ask themselves. The thing to bear in mind is in my research, the majority of hikikomori are NOT mentally ill, but are suffering from social anxiety or trauma. They are completely lucid and mentally acute; now imagine that you, a healthy and sane person, is put in isolation in a prison or mental institution: their rooms act in much the same way, as an isolation chamber where they are only left with their thoughts on how they came to be in the room alone. In such a state, you are going to become angry, frustrated, go into denial and yet retain cogent self awareness of your own situation as you are sane and lucid. So yes, hikikomori suffer from their isolation as only a self-aware individual can. </p>
Q & A about Hikikomori Part 5 <p> 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.... Actually, it does affect older people from time to time such as a salaryman who has lost his job or some such, but the majority who become hikikomori seem to be young people who are trying to rectify their direct personal experiences in society with the built-in hypocrisy that is inherent in a functional adult society. The Japanese call it tatemae/honne, outside face/inner desires, but I would also say that George Herbert Mead’s essay ‘The Self’ is a more detailed assessment of the problem with hikikomori. Using Mead’s theoretical framework, hikikomori are unable to successfully integrate the individual and deeply personal desires of “I” with the more pluralistic “Me” that is defined by its role in society existent inside the mind of every individual. Young people have not yet solidified these two halves of consciousness and won’t until they reach full maturity after many natural setbacks and disappointments that life metes out as the ‘reality’ of society settles in. By contrast, working adults, dealing with the contradictions of daily life, have a hardened shell and are able to cope with the stresses that Mead’s two conceptions of ‘self ‘ place on an individual. Therefore, undue stress on a young person can fracture these two ‘selves’, as an attempt is made to find ‘one truth’ to society; one which can never be found.... One solution is isolation, however suicide may be another extreme example which falls in line with Emile Durkheim’s theories on the effects of upheavals in society on the individual. The ten year economic malaise in Japan and the end of lifetime employment for incoming company employees may be one reason many youth are questioning their lot in life and choosing social withdraw or suicide over the alternative of years of schooling with no reward at the end and no answers by society at large. </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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