Disorders or prevarication?

this whole topic puzzles me much:

what is your opinion about that topic?

what do you think about the article
itself and the approach ?
and what about the 2030 problem that is

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Some thoughts:

  • It seems fitting that it’s a supposedly mainly Japanese phenomenon, because the Japanese have a really extreme social culture with large pressures towards social conformity and hiding your true emotions. The task of emotional adaptation to such a demanding society may require an extraordinary amount of psychological resources. So, it would seem “natural” that more people in Japan would suffer from what could be called “social burnout” than in other countries.
  • I don’t trust Wikipedia to give unbiased information. If I wanted to research this phenomenon, I would insist on actually communicating with a representative sample of hikikomori on my own.
  • I am sure that like most other societal groups, the hikikomori are a rather diverse bunch with quite different background, motivations, and interests. It’s all too easy to create stereotypes and then use these straw man to put a huge number of people into the same mental box.
  • I don’t like the term “disorder”. I prefer to talk more neutrally about “conditions”.
  • I have lived quite socially retreated for quite a while. In large part this was due to debilitating medical issues. This may also be a factor in many cases of Japanese hikikomori.
  • It would be fascinating to see what would happen if you placed a couple of dozen of these people on a deserted island on which it should be easy to survive. What kind of society would they form? An “anti-Japanese” one?
  • In the future, physical location will become less and less important. You will be able to do about anything in virtual worlds. So, the phenomenon might eventually vanish due to not even being noticed any more! If it became the social norm to stay hooked up to virtual worlds, then nobody would even bother to give it a name!
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thank you for your thoughts! there are
many great points to start with.

  1. yes, maybe it is a special
    phenomenon concerning japan and the japanese society. but it is also
    possible, that we just see the tip of the iceberg of a typical
    development of capitalism and we need a little more years to get
    there as well. another aspect are parallels with a little shift. so
    maybe it just looks a bit different here, but is not in the core.
  • pressure, conformity, hiding true
    emotions, demanding society and “social burnout”…is a
    good collection of terms and they lead to the most important question
    of all:

is disorder, specially a mental
disorder the problem of the few who are suffering from it, or are
those few an important indicator that something in the whole
collective of people is ill? to me, the latter is the better
perspective to solve problems instead of treating symptoms.

  1. i don´t trust wikipedia either. but
    wikipedia has influence concerning the consciousness of the many and
    represents it as well. i chose the term " prevarication"
    because i think that the way of presentation in wikipedia concerning
    this topic is away from truth.

  2. yes, creating stereotypes and labels
    seems to be much easier than to analyse and look for causality. what
    puzzles me most is the connotation of pathology, here, because the
    same would apply to all forms of resistance: are resistance fighters
    ill because they are the few who don´t fit in? and people who
    refuse to watch tv “suffer” from mental disorder because
    most of the people watch tv? on one hand it is right to show the
    label “hikikomori” because it exists in japan as a label.
    but the focus of the whole article is questionable.

  3. yes, there are other causes to live
    socially retreated than a supposed mental disorder. you could be
    physically ill, or you could live that way by choice. in other times
    and contexts a hermit would not be considered ill. many years ago in
    many areas of the “social life” i chose withdrawal and this
    became the most important experience in my life.

  4. interesting thought. maybe not
    "anti- japanese" but a new japanese society. hikikomori are
    all part of the younger generation in conflict with the old people
    with all their old values and views. and if the old tend to
    pathologize the new generation for deviant behaviour it will be hard
    to built new futuristic societies.

  5. good point!
    … to sum up
    aspects for another perspective:

maybe the hikikomori:

  • are the tip of the iceberg of a
    development, that only becomes visible with the hikikomori
  • are indicators that something new is
    going on and that societies have to change (and not the hikikomori!)
    maybe the old:
  • tend to struggle to keep their
    familiar system alive
  • tend to pathologize representatives
    of a new development

Why do you think this phenomenon has to do with capitalism? It’s certainly the tip of an iceberg, but I don’t think the iceberg is capitalism or even caused by capitalism.

I said that I don’t like the term “disorder”. Whether on an individual level or on the societal level. It’s a societal condition that there are hikikomori. First of all, that’s just a neutral observation. Whether you want to see that in a negative or positive or neutral light is your own decision and interpretation.

It is true that society is quick to judge and “pathologize”. Why is not watching TV not pathologized? Perhaps this may have to do with the existence of very high status individuals who don’t have time for watching TV.

I think the solution is for like minded individuals who understand one another to migrate to communities that are set up in a way that reflects their needs, be it a small polis, a gated neighborhood or an academy like institution with dorms and community area’s. That way you wake up every morning knowing you won’t be running the gauntlet in a world full of aliens and their poorly designed systems. I think this, provided there was a mechanism to prevent separate communities based on opposing ideologies from antagonizing one another, would go a long way to sorting problems out for most of the population, not just social recluses, even though they have wildly divergent needs.

Unfortunately the way things are now won’t allow that scale of solution for a section of society made up of social recluses who are usually jobless and so usually poor. So the only places where you find some semblance of this is the internet, which at present, is insufficient as a mechanism for satisfying the innate psychological needs of animals with social instincts. While I agree that, sooner or later, advancing information technology will solve all these problems, waiting for that day is going to take far to long, especially for people who have ended up trapped in a fully Hikikomori lifestyle.

But like I say, in this system, what can be done but wait or work slowly to reform against the grain of society? Very few people have the stomach for grinding away societies insufficiencies, least of all those with social issues, this is why most of those who have enough control over society to mold it to their whim have had the road paved for them. Hence why its important, we who are willing, think about this kind of thing and commit to do the grinding regardless if many others come to help.


Some north korean refugees suffer from isolation when crossing the border. The reason, they expect the state to participate on its inclusion on society. Despite been an extraordinaire case, and of dependence, it shows the need for a social inclusion system, if there is in mind to prevent social isolation.

I ask, is this social withdrawal completely volunteer, or is there unsatisfied social contact, we may be unaware, on the physicality? I for one know cases where they withdraw not because their successful solitary confinement, but for social failures and personal tragedies.

In this last case, its key not to force unwanted participation, but to offer clear alternatives. And it may be an alternative to offer a perfect virtual realm, with interaction on these worlds. But if there is a way to match the need with a physical alternative, its imperative to at least offer such.

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this is nicely written. but what is it we could do concrete and real? one
idea that i have, is to gain a different view - at first for myself .
if there are others that could help, it would be much better. but
when i am already that one person with a different view, i am the one
that could help. concrete and real only persons with a different view
could rewrite the wikipedia article about hikikomori - and in a way
that is what we are doing right now. i am not that puzzled anymore
than i was at the beginning before reading these answers in this
thread. the very term “hikikomori” is painful for me and
the whole article in its tone sounds inhuman. but wikipedia reflects
a kind of mainstream consciousness. and if affected people read that
article, the pressure and the humiliation that is already part of
their life would not be changed but confirmed. so to me, real help is
to have a kind of counterbalance against mainstream- opinions. first
with my own thoughts, then with the help of others and maybe someday
with a wiki of different views than wikipedia.

the question is: from what do they withdraw? is it from a lovely
paradise or from a violent collective that coerce them every day? i
think the term “voluntary” only makes sense in the context
of a real choice. so you are right with your question and i must
change my notion: "or you could live that way by choice."
but a difference might be that you could withdraw only as an
unconscious reaction or you could be aware of what you are doing and
why. concerning the unsatisfied social contact: it seems to me not only a typical
suffering of a person that lives socially retreated, but a suffering
of all people more or less; and especially those considered as
successfully integrated. we could open up an extra thread for that
topic. social failures: who is the one who fails? when i am a trainer and i have a
trainee who fails an examination, whose failure is it?


Yes, tragedies, not a voluntary event.
As this is now an example of the way people retreats from social physicality by means of an alternative living, we can say with certainty is a healthy alternative to the dangers of our society.

I know that the issues society with this being an alternative is the fear to become sort of “pandemic”, but that doesn’t make the “social retreat” less of an option.

Now, to change articles like wikipedia and the like of opinions, counterarguments must be made as counter accusations point by point. As an example, people could suffer from general discrimination and violence in the local area, so having a virtual presence in communities alike is the most healthy initiative for this individual.

An alternative to social retreat would be to join a counter-culture and live together with like-minded people in some sort of community. Be it an anarchist commune or a co-op with a community house where workers could live, or a hackerspace, or an alternative religious community, or …?

What if these counter-culture communities were more prevalent? Would they be able to attract many or even most of the hikikomori? And if there aren’t enough of them, why don’t hikikomori go ahead and create these communities on their own? Reasons for that might be lack of social skills, or the complete loss of faith in other human beings, or a lack of tools and resources to create these communities.

Anyway, virtual communities might be an intermediary step that could help them to move into the direction described above. Unfortunately my Japanese skills have rusted a lot, so I would have a hard time to check whether there are virtual communities who attract hikikomori in general.

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"Did I mention my novel…"
One can say technology raises interesting opportunities for communities to develop, even (more) for “intentional communities” to appear. Imagine if there is a “post-scarcity” culture or similar where people is not limited to resources to decide whether living with people alike or not. Quite interesting idea we got there.

Would pretty much depend on personal ideologies if they are not limited by resources. For example, “mind uploading” is appealing to many people, not all, so here is a raw, primordial example.

Its happening already, we may agree.

Yes, you mentioned it. I want to read a summary of what it’s about and what happens in the novel. You might want to create a new thread for that, if you like. :smile:

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