The psychiatrist Tamaki Saito coined the word “Hikikomori” to describe a worrying phenomenon that is catching on in Europe, USA, and Japan. In Japan, there are already more than 1 million cases.

The main feature/characteristic of this phenomenon is social withdrawal, which causes/leads the individual to isolate himself from the outside world on purpose.

People suffering from this condition usually don’t take part in social life for at least 6 months, they tend to develop apathy regarding social contacts and they may become aggressive towards family members. In addition, the inversion of the circadian rhythm may occur.

New technologies and the role that the internet has in our lives have allowed the accelerated development of this phenomenon. This phenomenon is also a form of psychological distress since “Hikikomori” isolate themselves from the outside world both physically and mentally. 

These people are constantly connected to “reality” via smartphones and other technologies/devices. So they remain socially active without having direct social contacts.

In order to prevent the “Hikikomori” to close in on themselves and also to create an empowering environment for them, it is recommended to create an engaging environment that can help these people along the process of building their autonomy.

Martina Fontana



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