For some, the world is so close to the confines of their homes, or even their rooms, going to the store for food is a challenge, and if possible, many don’t. Real contact with others is kept to a minimum. This is how hikikomori manifests itself. It is a combination of two Japanese words – “hiko” which means retreat and “room”, which means to hide and protect. The name originated in Japan because this country has been recording this condition for many years – and it is estimated that it affects more than 1 in 100 Japanese.
hikikomori – pull out and flee
Initially, in the 70s, the problem was mainly related to teenagers, but now people of all ages fall victim to it. Hikikomori-like symptoms began to appear in other Asian countries and later. Everywhere it causes the victims themselves to suffer and a burden to society. Some experts are already talking about a global problem.
By definition, you can talk about hikikomori when you withdraw from life for at least six months. The disorder can be of varying severity – some leave the house 1 to 3 times a week, some once a week, and some never leave their rooms.
Where does this condition come from?
Question – why? Sometimes isolation is accompanied by other problems or even mental illness. However, this is not always the case. Experts point out that fear is largely behind isolating yourself from the rest of the world. The world is full of threats, challenges, difficulties and noise, it is chaotic and unpredictable. In countries such as Japan, the emphasis is on strong alignment with society, often at the expense of individuality. On the other hand, in countries with individual cultures, there is pressure to succeed and be successful, and not everyone can handle such stress.
More than one person may not want to live like this, they do not always see an alternative, and some slowly withdraw into their own world. In addition to real challenges, the human psyche is increasingly under attack by “messages” coming from all sides. Quotation marks are intended, as some researchers point out, that the material presented is often intended to elicit an emotional response and attract the viewer or listener, rather than providing the necessary information. Hence the constant messages about tragedies, dramas and dark predictions. Fear often breeds, with a lack of messages that give hope and show solutions. With the right dose of contact with these substances, the world and the people who live in it may increasingly look like a threat from which it is best to escape.
A virtual world
So hikikomori victims may reject real reality, for example because they cannot control it. There is also an increasingly large-scale digital world, which now offers a lot of virtual stimuli of various kinds, but which can also be adapted to your own needs and, to a large extent, manageable, you can feel – unfortunately – only ostensibly safe in it.
However, such a world somehow fulfills the desires of its host. Thus, a home or a room with a computer appears as an escape place, a safe haven.
At the same time, it becomes almost a complete option to spend life in it like in real life. A classic treadmill emerges at the same time – being closed off in virtual reality can increase isolation and loneliness, causing people to escape into the digital world even more. It is also important that these people are active mainly at night. According to some specialists, this may facilitate the blurring of the boundaries between the real world and the virtual world. In the case of existing comorbidities such as depression and neurosis, it is unclear whether they are a consequence of hikikomori or may have contributed to its development in humans. However, the issue is still being investigated and definitive answers are often missing.
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