Perspectives of people with hikikomori (social withdrawal): Based on their initial messages for telepsychology in Japan

[Speaker] Yatsuda, Masako:1
[Co-author] Aoki, Kikuyo:1, Iwafuji, Hiromi:1, Koshi, Megumi:1
1:Ochanomizu University (Japan)

Hikikomori refers to a condition where a person's activities have been restricted to his/her home for over six months. Although it became a serious issue in Japan, empirical researches are still scarce to understand the phenomenon. The purpose of this study is to examine the perspectives of hikikomori sufferers, analyzing their initial messages on email and telephone counselling. Using text-mining to analyze the email messages from 1,654 clients collected during the last decade, the contextual differences were examined in terms of their gender, age and duration of hikikomori. Results showed that hikikomori was more prevalent in males; nevertheless, female hikikomori sufferers seemed to have their own unique problems. Also, their distress tended to be intensified when the duration became extended over 5 years. We will examine and illustrate these differences by thematic analyses with the data of telephone counselling collected in 2015 at the conference.
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