Uniquely Japanese- Hikikomori 引きこもり

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The Japanese word Hikikomori, which literally means “pulling inwards” is used as a noun, as well as a verb, to describe adolescents or adults who choose to withdraw from society and lead reclusive and isolated lives. This is quite a big social problem in Japan, where it is estimated that as many as 500,000 people may be living as hikikomori, and potentially another 1.5 million on the verge of becoming so.

Hikikomori are often boys or men and must have withdrawn from society for a period of longer than 6 months in order to be considered to be hikikomori. The term is used for people still living at home with their parents and suggests a high level of dependence, by the recluse, on the parents.

Some people see the hikikomori phenomenom as a social response to video and online gaming, and other socially acceptable behaviours, however, there are many people who are remaining locked away into their middle age, cripled by anxiety, pressure and shame, and as their parents age, Japan is going to face a major mental health crisis in the coming years, as these recluses will no longer have parents to look after them.

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