TEEN HEALTH Published July7, 2015 By Milafel Hope Dacanay

Hikikomori Threatens Japan's Social Health

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Many people especially introverts need solitude and alone time to reenergize. However, some just remain holed up in their rooms not just days but even months and years. In Japan, this is called hikikomori.

Hikikomori means being confined, and that what's happening to at least a million men and women in Japan today. These people may sleep on days and wake up at nights to browse the Internet, read manga, or play games-without ever leaving their rooms. In very rare cases, they do, but usually, it's only to grab some food. More likely, they simply rummage the fridge and go back to their space.

The phenomenon took a long time to be discovered, owing to Japan's culture of protecting family reputation. However, more parents are becoming alarmed with their children skipping school and shunning any kind of social life to be by themselves.

Indeed, those who practice hikikomori struggle with communication. They are often described as anti-social as they unlearn how to deal with people. Some develop mistrust even to their own families. Many hikikomoris are prone to violence and anger against others, including their parents.

But then, why is this happening? It turns out there are many reasons. One of the biggest explanations is social withdrawal. They may have been bullied at school or they may have developed an intense fascination over something like otaku that can make them socially awkward. Psychiatrists are also pointing out on trauma that may be created by several underlying factors, one of which is the intense pressure of impressing other people, most notably parents or family.

The damaging long-term effects of hikikomori have forced the government to consider it as a mental health issue. Experts, on the other hand, point out that many of them may eventually develop paranoia, depression, and other intense negative emotions.

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