The hikikomori, these invisible people

The hikikomori, these invisible people

Saito is a 20-year-old middle-class boy who has been voluntarily locked up in his room for several years.

IHe spends almost all day sleeping there and spends the night watching television or playing video games: his only friends are virtual … and never cross the computer screen.

Saito does not let anyone enter his room. Her mother drops her meal every day at the door, with a resignation that plunges her into a deep sadness …

His parents live in shame and guilt because they think they have not properly educated their son; a phenomenon they are trying to hide from their neighbors.

His room is his only world. He lives there, eats there, makes his needs there. Saito gradually begins to accumulate waste and neglect its appearance … However, no one can do anything to remedy the situation. His parents also do not know how to tackle the problem.

The hikikomori

The story of Saito is a fictional story based on reading many cases similar to the protagonist of our story, responding to the same kind of conduct.

These are the hikikomori, a term appeared in 1986 meaning "rejected from society" and who refers to Japanese adolescents or young adults – mostly men, older children – where the pressure is greater in men than in women.

This social phenomenon is rooted in the strict Japanese societywhich, most of the time, suffocates its inhabitants and especially the youngest ones.

Japan has one of the best education systems in the world, the best companies and a thriving economy.

Unfortunately, the phenomenon is spreading and in Spain there are already 65 cases according to the Institute of Neuropsychiatry and Addictions of the Hospital del Mar in Barcelona (the first study at European level).

From the moment a Japanese child returns to daycare, her skills are already evaluated. The school system and future prospects are extremely demanding towards the Japanese …

Many do not support the system and feel so much pressure and fear of failure that the only emergency exit they find is to take refuge in their room, where nothing and no one can demand anything from them.

Unfortunately, there is a percentage of cases leading to suicide, while others are fortunate to reintegrate into society.

The NGO New Start

In Japan, it is a very delicate phenomenon to which society is always turning its back. For example, more than a decade ago, Futagami Noki, a retired teacher, was able to observe students who were suffering from this disorder, and decided to create an NGO to help these teens: New Start.

His method is to house these children with other hikikomori for a week during which they can perform activities proposed by the center and motivating them most: cafeteria, bakery, farm, retirement home, nursing school and even a newsroom to write publications for the local newspaper.

If their situation improves, they can integrate the vocational reintegration program thanks to the collaboration of the NGO with several companies.

This courageous and thriving NGO faces a serious problem every day. Sometimes it is the hikikomori themselves who voluntarily integrate New Start. However, most of the time, it is the parents who ask for help.

This is an extremely difficult problem, as one NGO collaborator, Ayako Ogury, tells us: "Sometimes we can visit them for a year before they get out of their room … If they go out … ” .

According to Dr. Hisako Watanabe: "Hikikomori are a powerful message for Japanese society. Their mere existence will have to force change” .

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