Hikikomori: phenomenon on the rise among adolescents


The meaning of Japanese word Hikikomori means “stand aloof”, in a nutshell, it indicates young people who isolate themselves from the world and from social life. More and more adolescents are withdrawing from social life and school to shut themselves up at home. The syndrome is steadily increasing. The only open window is the internet which locks up the kids in a sort of virtual trap. However, Hikikomori is not an addiction to the web or, for example, to video games. 


The most critical phase is of adolescence, around the age of 15, the transitional age between the middle and high school, a delicate phase in which the adolescent distances himself from the family nucleus and looks for a new reference in the group of peers. It doesn’t always happen in a linear fashion. Parents may initially notice inconsistent school attendance and a progressive disinterest in friends and extracurricular activities. Another signal is the alteration of the physiological sleep-wake cycle.

Maria Pontillo, psychotherapist of Childhood and Adolescent Neuropsychiatry at the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital in Rome

Kids may even not sleep at night and sleep during the day. The real causes of this phenomenon are not known, because the company is very competitive. Maybe that’s exactly why it triggers the inadequacy of teenagers in the world. The pandemic has made the situation worse. In fact, those who suffered from social withdrawal felt less exposed with Covid, given that everyone was forced into a collective social restriction. For those who were instead attempting a path to get out of this syndrome, they found themselves afraid of the outside world again.

  • Adolescents, Hikikomori, an extremely growing phenomenon (


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