Hikikomori and modern-type depression in Italy: A new phenotypical trans-cultural characterization?

Laura Orsolini, Silvia Bellagamba, Umberto Volpe, Takahiro A. Kato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Hikikomori is a Japanese term etymologically derived from ‘hiku’ (i.e. ‘to pull back’) and ‘komoru’ (i.e. ‘seclude oneself’), which identifies those subjects who deliberately withdraw themselves by social life, remaining confined into their own home/room. The phenomenon is widely diffused in Japan, even though it is currently spread outside the Japanese culture. However, a universally shared and cross-cultural adaptation of Hikikomori definition, phenomenological and psychopathological characterization is still missing. Methodology: An expert-guided opinion paper was here provided to clinical characterize the Hikikomori-like social withdrawal in the Italian context, by considering the transformation from a family-based society to a ‘fluid’ digital-structured culture, also discussing the concept of modern-type depression. This was provided deepening the principal current studies available in literature and giving an interpretation based on clinical experience in the Italian society. The work was supervised through a consensus by the most international expert of Japanese Hikikomori syndrome. Results: Current individual, family and social trajectories may potentially act as a mediator in favouring the occurrence of Hikikomori-like social withdrawal also in western countries, including Italy. Despite the differences between Japanese and Italian society and culture, the recent shaping of family structure and intra-familial dynamics, typical of the current post-modern society, may potentially influence the emergence of psychopathologies not typical of Italian culture. Unemployment and ‘Not in Employment Education or Training’ (NEET) conditions may represent another potential risk factor for economical/social marginalization of youngsters, together with the recent dramatic emergence of web-based psychopathologies. Conclusion: A diagnostic culturally-adapted flow-chart is proposed for clinical characterizing Hikikomori in Italian context, which may help in proposing preventive strategies, ensuring early identification and prompt therapeutic interventions, particularly among youngsters.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1010-1017
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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