Managing Categorization and Social Withdrawal in Japan: Rehabilitation Process in a Private Support Group for Hikikomorians. Ogino, Tatsushi
Social withdrawal among Japanese youth has been noticed since the latter-half of the 1990s. It is called Hikikomori in Japan. Though some clinicians in the mental health field have referred to social backgrounds of this problem, only a few sociological studies have been conducted. I have conducted participant observation in a private support group and recorded the rehabilitation processes of people with Hikikomori for two years. My study has two aspects. First, it is a short ethnography concerning the features of the group efforts. Second, it is intended to interpret relations between the features and rehabilitation processes. The first feature is the group dynamics arising from friendly and competitive relationships among the people with Hikikomori—called Hikikomorians. The second feature is“managing categorization”. It is a tendency to be vague about categories that indicate their social status accompanied with some roles. This tendency could be observed in various aspects of the group activities, for example, concerning diseases’ names, schedules, definition of space and so on. Managing categorization allows Hikikomorians to easily participate in and experience social activities. They are people who do not have social categories to explain themselves easily in social settings and do not have the self-confidence to perform some roles. Under social pressures, however, they tend to maintain a behavioral principle that is based on categories. Managing categorization therefore functions to provisionally release their attitudes and allow them to attempt trial and error based situations more easily. Finally, I also indicate some difficulties of managing categorization. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Psychology Today; Feb2003, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p20, 3/4p, 1c
Focuses on the Hikikomori syndrome among young people in Japan. Definition of the syndrome; Significance of neglectful parenting to the development of the syndrome; Impact of the cultural gap among the youth and the elders in Japan on the views of young Japanese on their parents.
Public health experts concerned about 'hikikomori' Watts, Jonathan
Lancet; 3/30/2002, Vol. 359 Issue 9312, p1131, 1p, 1c
Focuses on the problem of acute social withdrawal by young adults in Japan. Crimes which have been committed by recluses; Idea that the younger generation has been made vulnerable by affluence and technological advances; Belief of psychiatrist Tamaki Saito that the government needs to take a systematic approach to defining and dealing with the illness.
Hikikomori and Youth Crime. Lyons, Horace B.
Crime & Justice International; February 2001, Vol. 17 Issue 49, p9-10, 2p
Japan is a much more homogeneous society than the United States, such that any person or group that departs from the dominant culture is quickly identified and often negatively labeled. Such is the case with the hikikomori. Those considered to be hikikomori, however, do not choose to be categorized. For many of these individuals, they would prefer to hold regular jobs by day and participate in their divergent lifestyle by night. There are an estimated 50,000 to 1,000,000 hikikomori in Japan. Many experts explain that those hikikomori who resort to violence are not representative of the group at large. Most of the youth, they maintain, simply engage in antisocial behavior without being violent. Nevertheless, the media has been influential in a heightening of fear of hikikomori incidents. Unfortunately, stories of violent attacks waged by those labeled hikikomori number sufficiently high to warrant the public's fear of a crime epidemic by those in this group. Rather than further isolating and placing a 'criminal' label on those youth who do not conform to the dominant culture, the challenge for Japanese society may be to develop a more accepting posture toward those youth who prefer alternative lifestyles to the dominant culture and expectations of parents, but have no intention of engaging in violent criminal behavior.