The culture bound syndrome I chose to research is hikikomori among the Japanese culture. Hikikomori can be described in various ways; generally, this CBS is defined in terms of young people who withdraw. Within the Japanese culture, is it very common among young middle class men to experience this form of withdrawal; one article suggests almost one million cases have been reported with males being 70-80% of the occupancy rate. In terms of the individual, the symptoms vary by case, but the key factor is the act of removing oneself from society. For some, this can last for up to twenty years. Some experience violent tendencies, insomnia and forms of obsessive-compulsive disorder, while most become lethargic and depressed. On behalf of the biology of these individuals, it is common for them to be in good health, with the exception of the symptoms of hikikomori. Over time, the average age of cases has risen, resulting in a shift from late teens and early twenties to early thirties.
The cultural dimension of this culture bound syndrome is quiet complex. The article argues that there are powerful social forces that can be the trigger, drawing individuals to hikikomori, or the magnet, keeping them in this state of hikikomori. One force is called sekentei, which reflects the importance of one’s reputation in the Japanese community and the pressure of impressing one’s peers. The second social force of the culture is called amae, or dependence. Japanese culture has an ideology surrounding strong family relationships and a dependency on one another. When one fails to live up to the expectations of the family, hikikomori may be the result.
The treatment of hikikomori is still being experienced with. Because there are many different forms of this syndrome and severities that occur among the individuals, the treatment forms are not static. According to the article, for the Japanese culture, the treatment sought by those suffering can vary, if treatment is even sought out in the first place. Some cases prefer group therapy, while others prefer individual care. The article emphasizes the approach of “reorganizing” the relationship between the patient and the parents. It is common for a length of time to pass before the Japanese culture turns to treatment options from a professional.
Kremer, William and Claudia Hammond. “Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms?” BBC News Magazine (2013). 16 July 2014. http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-23182523.