Survival guide for 'hikikomori' for when their parents are gone

Survival guide for 'hikikomori' for when their parents are gone

TOKYO —

The social phenomenon of “hikikomori,” where people are compelled to remain confined in their own homes, is not new anymore. What is new, however, is the looming issue of what happens when a “hikikomori’s” parents become elderly or die.

Recently a scattering of cases has begun involving people who have filed for government support after their parents have died. And with estimates of the “hikikomori” population hovering around one million in Japan, experts are suggesting this is just the tip of the impending iceberg.

One group called Nadeshiko No Kai out of Nagoya is looking to take the bull by the horns and is nearly ready to issue a manual – the first of its kind – for “hikikomori” to aid them in becoming independent once their parents are no longer able to help.

The booklet is titled “Riku No Hitori Dake Shima] Hatsu [Shintairiku] Gyo” (Departing: Island of Only Oneland – Arriving: New World) and is 18 pages of everything from basic living tips such as cooking and cleaning as well as how to get the right government support like health care if needed. There are also tips and anecdotes written by real “hikikomori” and their parents.

Nadeshiko No Kai says they made the book as easy a read as possible using large print and illustrations. The head of the group, Masanori Ohwaki isn’t expecting everyone to read it, but hopes that those who might need it someday hang on to it.

The organization has around 90 registered “hikikomori” from three prefectures each, which they gather data and learn about. According to the studies on this group the average age of a “hikikomori” is 33 and their parents are 64. However, the average time for a “hikikomori” to get acclimatized to the outside world is about 12 years.

Those numbers alone show how little time left there is for parents to do something before it’s too late. This is a problem one 68-year-old father of a “hikikomori” in her 20s worries about saying, “It’s a serious problem, but we usually skirt the issue with each other. I hope this guide will help get something started.”

Experts say there is still a decade or so before the first large scale wave of “hikikomori” start losing their parents while they themselves enter their 50s and 60s. Nadeshiko No Kai and many like them feel that measures need to be taken as soon as possible to minimize the burden on Japan as a whole.

Source: Nikkei

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  • 17

    NathalieB

    OR- we could address the issue of what causes hikikomori iin the first place and take steps to rehabilitate them into society BEFORE their parents are gone. Nah....forget that. Lets just pretend all is well.

  • -2

    Frungy

    Alternatively they could hire some Western psychologists to train Japanese social workers on CBT, and along with a little help from pharmacotherapy (specifically anti-anxiety medication) they could have these kids walking the streets in a few months and back in jobs in a year or two.

  • 8

    Kazuaki Shimazaki

    One cannot help but be amused at the contrast in solutions. One country says leave it alone. The other says to forrce acceptance with drugs.

  • 6

    fishy

    if one can afford to be a hikikomori, that's a luxary. many people cannot afford to stay home and be like that... there are things that need to be done.

  • 4

    nostromo

    ...and along with a little help from pharmacotherapy (specifically anti-anxiety medication) they could have these kids walking the streets in a few months and back in jobs in a year or two.

    the drug companies will love this - a whole new market for them to exploit

  • 5

    Alphaape

    18 pages of everything from basic living tips such as cooking and cleaning as well as how to get the right government support like health care if needed. There are also tips and anecdotes written by real “hikikomori” and their parents.

    If they have spent years living at home and not doing these basic things, then how do they think 18 pages will somehow magicaly make them to be independent when their support is gone?

    As some have posted, Japan needs to tackle the root of the problem, why are people feeling that they need to shut themselves off from the world. Drugging them up is not the answer, but perhaps some other mental health approach is needed.

  • -12

    sengoku38

    Drugging up is not the answer. There are systemic problems that have to be addressed. Government isn't the one to do it, either. This is the realm of religion.

  • 2

    Yubaru

    However, the average time for a “hikikomori” to get acclimatized to the outside world is about 12 years.

    And in Japan's current economy what is a 45 year old former hikkikomori going to do for work? Lawson?

  • 0

    Thunderbird

    I would personally be OK with hikikomori if the person contributes in any way to the society, be it as a home-based programmer, or , well... I guess the jobs are very limited to someone who refuses to leave its own house. But I mean, do ANYTHING beneficial to the society.

    By the way, hipocrisy aside, what the hell is wrong with these parents? Been living by myself since 18 by choice, simply can't imagine raising a twenty something in my own home. What you are suppose to do with a spoiled brat with no dreams, no goals, no plans of future?? Surely feed him with baby food everyday if you are in Asia.

  • 0

    fondofj

    The organization has around 90 registered “hikikomori”

    hikikomori and registered! This line makes my day.

  • 2

    sighclops

    You can't just give these people a 'how-to' guide. This goes back to the inherit problem with Japanese society - a shunning of the real societal problems, particularly mental health services. These people need help & support. Government-funded, and heavily promoted. The 'kawaii' / 'umai' rainbows-and-lollipops BS image that the Japanese media (looking at you, TV networks) tries to cover everything up with isn't helping.

    My ex-girlfriend's brother was what you would classify as a 'hikikomori' and would not even leave his room for dinner - it was taken up to him every night. I even had to beg him to come down to have some of my birthday cake on time! That is the truth.

    I feel that this problem will only get worse, before it gets any better.

  • 0

    Frungy

    Kazuaki ShimazakiMay. 07, 2014 - 09:48AM JST One cannot help but be amused at the contrast in solutions. One country says leave it alone. The other says to forrce acceptance with drugs.

    So you don't want anaesthetic during surgery? The anti-anxiety medication isn't there to "force acceptance", it is generally only used after the patient has agreed the therapy, and is facing their crippling fear of the outdoors and facing other people. Its like a painkiller when a doctor is giving you stitches. Once the patient has been outside a few times and knows they can do it and the worst will not happen the medication is dialed down slowly as the patient realises that their fears are not realistic.

    This is also a companion treatment to CBT, cognitive behavioural therapy. CBT is doing the heavy lifting here, the medication is just to smooth out the bumps.

  • 2

    NathalieB

    One cannot help but be amused at the contrast in solutions. One country says leave it alone. The other says to forrce acceptance with drugs.

    Because leaving it alone and doing nothing is such an effective solution to the problem? As Frungy says - drugs are not the answer, they are the facilitator needed (and often required) to get the patient on to a treatment path in the first place. But yes, in Japan at least, you do have a point. Drugs are highly likely to be thrown at the patient, and nothing else done.

  • 3

    Osaka_Doug

    I know several mothers who created "hikikomori" children - and they all told me they thought keeping burdens and " doing everything" for the child was kindness since when they are adults they would be burden with societies pressures. Many mothers and society has no idea about inspiring "resiliency" in their children--schools teach you the group is more important. Eventually we were able to persuade the mother to get the 30 year adult certified as a person with "slight mental disorder" and thanks to the governments policy requiring companies to hire a percentage of "challenged people" in the workplace, this person is enjoying working in a major Japanese company doing filing and copying. She would not be able to work as a challenged person unless certified FYI. Hopefully the practice of hiding the fact that you have a "challenged person" in the family will disappear in the years to come - but this is why many parents like to hide their "hikkomori" children. It is a problem that needs more discussion in Japan.

  • -1

    MissingCylonModel

    As far as survival guides go, there's a chapter in "World War Z" (the book, not the movie) where a hikikomori has to get out in the world, which happens to be Zombie-infested Kyoto. With great difficulty, at first, he grows strong. My favorite part of the story.

  • 0

    SenseNotSoCommon

    Let's not forget that inheritances will dry up, and housing that's designed to be (wastefully) scrapped every generation is going to see a lot of homeless hikikomori. Where do they hide then?

  • 0

    Daniel Neagari

    .... I know I am gonna be thumbed down by this but... If people detect Hikikomori in a family member (young specially)... send them to boarding schools, Police or JSDF service!

    Or even better, make a deal with the USMC and send them for training. Japan gets USMC class personnel, US will be able to make a deeper alliance with Japan. The Hikikomori will have access to the US psychiatrist, learn how to run his life and even get access to college education.

  • 2

    darnname

    They had a hikikomori meeting scheduled last week at a Denny''s in Shibuya.

    No one showed up.

  • 0

    Frungy

    Daniel NeagariMay. 08, 2014 - 11:57AM JST .... I know I am gonna be thumbed down by this but... If people detect Hikikomori in a family member (young specially)... send them to boarding schools, Police or JSDF service!

    Boarding school? Hmm... it might work. The police? Umm.. the J-cops are already over their quota on mentally disturbed individuals. As for the JSDF, the entrance exams are insanely difficult... you'd NEED to have no life to pass them.

    Or even better, make a deal with the USMC and send them for training. Japan gets USMC class personnel, US will be able to make a deeper alliance with Japan. The Hikikomori will have access to the US psychiatrist, learn how to run his life and even get access to college education.

    This is the worst idea I've ever seen. Take a vulnerable individual and expose them to the brain washing required to get someone to the point where they will obey an order to shoot and kill another human being? ... yeah, that's a GREAT idea (muchos sarcasmos).

  • 0

    slumdog

    The National Center for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Research here in Japan(http://www.ncnp.go.jp/cbt/index.html) has also put out guidelines (http://www.ncnp.go.jp/nimh/fukki/documents/guide.pdf) for communities in dealing with the prevalence of shut-ins or ひきこもり in their teens and twenties.

    They have had success with anti-anxiety medications and cognitive behavior therapy in treating these cases of shut-ins.

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