Youth in Japan want to go out to meet people and make friends and lovers, but the phenomenon called hikikomori won’t let them. They simply just can’t.
Over a half of a million young people in Japan have isolated themselves, some for months at a time without leaving their houses, according to a government survey.
The Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare is calling it hikikomori, a condition defined by people who haven’t left their homes for a period of six months or longer. People affected wouldn’t leave the comfort of their own homes for school, work or even to casually socialize with other people.
Even though it might sound like they are antisocial, or just don’t want to go outside, but that is not the case at all.
The phenomenon started in 1990s, but was classified as mass behavior and not as a disorder. However, the recent survey found that 541,000 people between the ages of 15 to 39 are spending months at a time in complete isolation. Some 35% of the people suffering from hikikomori have not left their homes for at least seven years, another 25% between three to five years.
Despite no tangible proof, doctors believe that these people are suffering from psychological and cultural influences, causing the condition, which is more evident in men than in women. The theory claims that the social pressure to succeed, whether in school or professionally, is getting the best of the people affected.
One thing that is for sure, is that laziness has nothing to do with it. Most of the people with the disorder spend their time playing video games and reading comic books, and are well educated, from the middle-class society.
Apparently, much is expected from people in Japan, and some fall into a turbulence of self torment when they find themselves not meeting those expectations.
Similar behavior has been found in many other countries, including China, US and Spain, which means that hikikomori is not only limited to Japan, but that people rushing into isolation for failing to meet high social expectations is a global issue.