HIKIKIKOMORI” has become a universal term in Italy and South Korea
HIKIKIKOMORI” is a serious problem not only in Japan, but also in Italy and South Korea. The word is now on the verge of becoming a universal language.
The news that a large-scale survey of 180,000 households conducted by Tokyo’s Edogawa Ward revealed that the largest number of people who had withdrawn from society were in their 40s is still fresh in our minds.
We asked the NPO “SNO (Safety Network Osaka)” about support for social withdrawal, which highlights various issues.
The phenomenon of “social withdrawal” is the result of a culture in which people have a “home” to which they can escape.
People who have experienced repeated hardships become increasingly fearful of other people, and come to believe that the only safe and secure place to be is in their own room. In this sense, it can be said that withdrawal is a phenomenon that has arisen because people have found “a place to escape to. One reason for the difference in the number of cases found in different countries seems to be cultural differences.
In Japan, Korea, and Italy, there is a tendency for people to stay at home even after they reach adulthood, while in the U.S., people are encouraged to be independent and leave home. I think this cultural difference may be the reason why there are few social withdrawalists in the U.S. and many young homeless people (see the book “Chukonen no Hikikomori” by psychiatrist Tamaki Saito, published by Gentosha)” (NPO “SNO”).
SNO is commissioned by Daito City, Osaka Prefecture, to provide support to people between the ages of 40 and 65 who have withdrawn from society and live in the city. The reason for focusing on middle-aged and older adults is that there are far fewer private organizations that provide support for middle-aged and older adults compared to support for youths up to the age of 39.
We recently received an inquiry from Hokkaido. A survey of the keywords used to access our website shows that 60% of the keywords are “8050 problem,” followed by “withdrawal,” and so on.
The difficulty of solving the “middle-aged and older people withdrawing from school” problem, which has become apparent through continued support
Although the number of people subject to withdrawal is at the top of the list, the number of 40- to 50-year-olds who have withdrawn from society is thinly supported. The following is a summary of the current situation that has emerged from SNO’s activities.
1_The “social withdrawal phenomenon” is becoming commonplace among the families involved.
One of the reasons for the prolonged period of time is that the families do not feel any urgency. Many parents give up, and the number of consultations declines when the parties involved reach 40 years of age. However, as they approach the age of 60, the urgent problems of declining parental health and dementia emerge, and the issue rapidly becomes more urgent. 30 to 40 years old is the most borderline.
2_They don’t want anyone to know about it, and they don’t want others to see inside the house…
It was found that the phenomenon of withdrawal is less common in families where parents are receiving nursing care services. When the withdrawal is prolonged, the parents begin to feel remorse and do not want anyone to know and do not want others to see the inside of the house, partly because of their public appearance. As a result, they refuse to provide care, and a vicious cycle ensues.
3_Women’s withdrawal in the name of “housework help,” which is often overlooked.
According to a survey conducted by Edogawa Ward, 51% of the respondents were women, but 80% of those who consulted SNO were men. In the case of women, it is even more difficult to obtain information because they may be hiding under the name of “domestic help.
4_Siblings are giving us a hard time
Many siblings, who are already independent, are angry with those involved, saying, “How long are you going to keep hanging around? First of all, support begins by encouraging family members to understand and reconstruct their way of thinking. A synergistic effect has emerged: parents are mentally stabilized by receiving counseling, and as a result, their children open up and their parents become more energetic.
5_Lack of social infrastructure and understanding that hinders employment and independence
There are many cases of people withdrawing from the workforce due to difficulties in dealing with their environment. Even if they become motivated to work, it is difficult for them to get a general job in one step. It is important for them to work their way up from simple jobs, but society has not provided them with such a place. The current situation is that there is no social infrastructure in place that allows the people involved to demonstrate their abilities.
6_Expectations for “gatekeepers” who do not need special qualifications
A gatekeeper is a person who notices those who are troubled, calls out to them, listens to them, and looks after them by connecting them to the necessary support. Not only those who have withdrawn from society, but also young caregivers and other people with problems often become more serious without being noticed by those around them. Some people can be helped by how those around them relate to them and keep their antennae up. Gatekeepers do not need special qualifications, and the increase in the number of such people may help to eliminate the phenomenon of social withdrawal.
Hikikomori” is not a disease but a phenomenon. It is important not to lump all people together.
Finally, I would like to conclude with a message from SNO, which continues its activities in a situation where it is difficult to gather information and it is difficult to meet the person in question, even if information is available.
In the case of people in their 40s or older who have withdrawn from society, their parents are getting older, and they need nursing care services. The fact that the more homes with shut-ins are not receiving services means that there is a possibility of improvement if the parents receive the proper services. I think it is necessary to bring in outsiders into the daily lives of the elderly, even if it means investing public money.
Also, parents who come to us for consultation always say, “We have to do something on our own. But they can’t do that, and that’s why we are in this situation. I would like them to talk with the counselors instead of trying to solve the problem on their own. We want them to use the community, society, and various public places. Our ultimate goal is to create an environment where people can manage to live independently in society, even while taking medication, without falling into the welfare system,” said Shuichi Terasaka, vice president of SNO.
(Shuichi Terasaka, Vice President, SNO) “People generally think, ‘Common sense tells us to do this, so why don’t they just get a job? It is easy to say, but it is important for everyone to understand that psychologically and physically, they are in this situation because they are not.
There are many difficult things to understand, but withdrawal is an individual problem and has its own origins. Rather than just focusing on the big picture of “social withdrawal,” it is important to know what is bothering the person the most and how to accept what is troubling the person in front of you as a human being. I think this is the key to success.
Interview and text： Chimasa Ide