The Intersection of Culture and Solitude: The Hikikomori Phenomenon in Japan

Alan R. Teo, Kyle W. Stufflebam, Takahiro A. Kato

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

15 Citations (Scopus)


Hikikomori, a form of extreme solitude first described in Japan, has become a focus of public attention around the world. It is a dramatic presentation of social isolation with far‐reaching social implications. Although in its infancy, research on hikikomori has begun to clarify this phenomenon. This chapter begins with a history of the hikikomori in Japan and a discussion about how it is defined. Theoretical understanding of hikikomori is then explored, including how it relates to stages of human development, attachment, and cultural characteristics in Japan. Next, hikikomori is considered from a medical viewpoint, including its clinical features, risk factors, and relationship with psychiatric disorders. Social dimensions of hikikomori are also considered, including epidemiological data and how hikikomori fits in the context of modern society and cultures outside Japan. The chapter concludes with a consideration of treatment for hikikomori and future research needs.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Handbook of Solitude
Subtitle of host publicationPsychological Perspectives on Social Isolation, Social Withdrawal, and Being Alone
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781118427378
ISBN (Print)9781118427361
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Psychology


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