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Hikikomori

Adolescence without End

2013
Author:

Saito Tamaki
Translated by Jeffrey Angles

Hikikomori

A best-selling work of Japanese psychology that brought attention to the widespread problem of acute social withdrawal

This is the first English translation of a controversial Japanese best seller that made the public aware of the social problem of hikikomori, or “withdrawal”—a phenomenon estimated to involve approximately one million Japanese adolescents and young adults. Drawing on his own clinical experience with hikikomori patients, Saitō Tamaki creates a working definition of social withdrawal and explains its development.

Hikikomori was a ground-breaking book when it appeared in Japan in 1998 and will no doubt generate enormous interest with its publication in English. It was Saitō’s work that first brought the phenomenon of social withdrawal to notice in Japan, and it promises to have a similar effect in the United States. Angles’s translation is superb.

J. Keith Vincent, Boston University

This is the first English translation of a controversial Japanese best seller that made the public aware of the social problem of hikikomori, or “withdrawal”—a phenomenon estimated by the author to involve as many as one million Japanese adolescents and young adults who have withdrawn from society, retreating to their rooms for months or years and severing almost all ties to the outside world. Saitō Tamaki’s work of popular psychology provoked a national debate about the causes and extent of the condition.

Since Hikikomori was published in Japan in 1998, the problem of social withdrawal has increasingly been recognized as an international one, and this translation promises to bring much-needed attention to the issue in the English-speaking world. According to the New York Times, “As a hikikomori ages, the odds that he’ll re-enter the world decline. Indeed, some experts predict that most hikikomori who are withdrawn for a year or more may never fully recover. That means that even if they emerge from their rooms, they either won’t get a full-time job or won’t be involved in a long-term relationship. And some will never leave home. In many cases, their parents are now approaching retirement, and once they die, the fate of the shut-ins—whose social and work skills, if they ever existed, will have atrophied—is an open question.”

Drawing on his own clinical experience with hikikomori patients, Saitō creates a working definition of social withdrawal and explains its development. He argues that hikikomori sufferers manifest a specific, interconnected series of symptoms that do not fit neatly with any single, easily identifiable mental condition, such as depression.

Rejecting the tendency to moralize or pathologize, Saitō sensitively describes how families and caregivers can support individuals in withdrawal and help them take steps toward recovery. At the same time, his perspective sparked contention over the contributions of cultural characteristics—including family structure, the education system, and gender relations—to the problem of social withdrawal in Japan and abroad.

Hikikomori

Saitō Tamaki is a practicing psychiatrist and director of medical services at Sōfūkai Sasaki Hospital in Funabashi, Japan. He is the author of more than two dozen books, including Beautiful Fighting Girl (Minnesota, 2011).

Jeffrey Angles is associate professor of modern Japanese literature and translation at Western Michigan University, where he is director of the Soga Japan Center.

Hikikomori

Hikikomori was a ground-breaking book when it appeared in Japan in 1998 and will no doubt generate enormous interest with its publication in English. It was Saitō’s work that first brought the phenomenon of social withdrawal to notice in Japan, and it promises to have a similar effect in the United States. Angles’s translation is superb.

J. Keith Vincent, Boston University

Hikikomori: Adolescence without End is the story of real people, and there are 700,000 of them in Japan only a little short of 1 per cent of its entire population. [Hikikomori] provides a unique insight into the Japanese psyche how the Japanese perceive family, school, adolescence, adulthood, gender and society.

Times Higher Education

Hikikomori

Contents

Translator’s Introduction: How to Diagnose an Invisible Epidemic
Jeffrey Angles

Hikikomori

Preface to the English Edition
Introduction

Part I. What Is Happening?
1. What Is Social Withdrawal?
2. The Symptoms and Development of Social Withdrawal
3. Psychological Ailments Accompanying Withdrawal
4. Is Social Withdrawal a Disease?
5. Hikikomori Systems

Part II. How to Deal with Social Withdrawal
6. Overcoming the Desire to Reason, Preach, and Argue
7. Important Information for the Family
8. The General Progress of Treatment
9. In Daily Life
10. The Sadness behind Violence in the Household
11. Treatment and Returning to Society
12. The Social Pathology of Withdrawal

Conclusion: Steps for the Future

Translator’s Notes
Bibliography
Index