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I understand that I should not be ashamed of my daughter. I know that I should not keep it secret. But I do all the time because I’m afraid my daughter will cause trouble outside the home. I have been depressed, hating myself.

11 Comments

A 71-year-old woman in Tokyo whose daughter has been a social recluse for about 30 years. The woman, who lives in the same house as her hikikomori child but has not spoken to her for five years.

© Asahi Shimbun

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It is heart breaking.

This mother reflects the heart of many parents, who tend to blame themselves when their kids don't come through socially and professionally.

However, this phenomenon in japan is a symptom of a deeper disease i n J society - the deepening alienation between generations and Japanese as a people group.

One thing, that is certain, Japanese basically still do not grasp the effectiveness of therapy - via psycho-therapy counselling, cognitive behaviour therapy, support groups.

They feel they would be 'exposed' in some way and loose face.

if this pattern of hikikomori could be identified earlier in a person, intervention could help the individual move forward ( and thus contribute to society as well as optimize their talents).

4 ( +5 / -1 )

She didn't want her daughter inconveniencing others? THAT was her biggest fear!?

at least she understands that she is to blame for it

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

As I've commented in other recent articles about this issue, this is a social problem for Japan as much as it is the fault of the specific parents involved in this case.

This is an example of what happens when kids (in this case the mother) are raised with limited freedom of thought and expression, limited critical thinking skills, and with the constraints of an overly formal language (and culture) that reinforces subservience at almost every turn. Break the rules; act anything but 'normal'; dare to ask questions; or be unfortunate to have a child or family member with a mental or physical disability, and you are outcast - not always because people disagree, or don't accept your situation, but more because people don't know how to deal with the situation.

Bowing deeply doesn't fix having a child with a disability. There's no apologetic phrase that can excuse the burden of inconveniencing someone with a hikkikomori person. Of course these things absolutely aren't necessary, but to a Japanese person constrained by this way of thinking and acting, it's easy to see why the case identified in the quote above happens - put the problem in a room, close the door, and don't talk about it to anyone.

Deep down I'm sure the mother knows her situation isn't right. She says she's depressesed but I guess she has never sought help for that either (weakness, shame etc.). It's tragic that people can't see the ways out of this, that there isn't an effective support system in place to help these people. It needs to start - where many solutions to problems in the world need to start - in schools. Give kids a rounded education where they learn to think critically, freedom of expression is encouraged, and social issues are talked about openly. Outside of school there needs to be an effective social support system that exists without stigma, which people can easily turn to as and when they need it.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The parents are complicit in this modern scourge.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

She didn't want her daughter inconveniencing others? THAT was her biggest fear!?

and that is the biggest problem with J society, if one of my children suffered a similar condition , Id drag them kicking and screaming to get professional help it it required, if others in J society are inconvenienced or gossip about it they can GFT for all I care . my family is more important than some socially accepted norm or expectation, seriously people have to break out of this mind conditioning that is culture its the biggest hindrance of progress in this world.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Wtfjapan, spot on. Nailed it

1 ( +2 / -1 )

She didn't want her daughter inconveniencing others? THAT was her biggest fear!?

I think it is as much a pattern of speech in Japan as anything else. Of course her concerns are primarily for her daughter but it is expressed through not wishing to create problems for others.

This maintains the facade of always putting the needs of others before your own and is an ironic pattern of speech. I think most Japanese would understand the honne here.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I don't even think Japan has a handle on this yet. Have any preventative actions been taken to head this off? If so where, how, and by which arm of society? We just keep reading about bleak futures.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The real problem is coming when these elderly parents start dying and the ATM machine dries up for the hikikomori...

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Not just in Japan, a drama outside the house is the "universal" fear of many families of people with a difference. In Europe/US, until recently higher and middle class families insisted on putting the person declared insane in a closed institution (like life time jail) in the name of safety for Society. Same reasoning. It's because they fear what they don't understand. People react to hikikomori phenomenon like in other time (places), they reacted as irrationnally to other non-mainstream things like a relative breaking rules and having a sex life outside current norm (used to be for anything "out of wedlock), being homosexual, joining a religious/political group...

her hikikomori child but has not spoken to her for five years.

And ? Not all recluses have mental issues, some do, some don't (whatever you think, a loner is not "ill"). And even among those with serious issues, fits of violence (like seen in the news recently) are a rarity, and most violent persons are not recluse... It's unrelated. There is no indication the daughter could be a troublemaker, you can be a hermit and still be polite and all in your very few encounters with civilization.

*Japanese basically still do not grasp the effectiveness of therapy*

What effectiveness ? In countries where babies get therapy with the milk and are fed with it all life, they also have a growing hikikomori trend. There they can blame the previous therapist. My impression is -while each hikiko' has a different bundle of reasons- it's our current society that makes them. Our economies create groups banned from accessing a real job (getting only part jobs not enough to be a bread winner), some even excluded from work activities (compensated by benefits). Beside, our technology pushes people to live alone with their devices... We'll see more and more hikikomoris everywhere.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

is she single?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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