Enquête du Cabinet du Japon

Rapport de recherches sur le hikikomori. Synthèse des résultats publiés en septembre 2016 par le bureau du cabinet du Japon (Hamasaki et al. 2017)

Revue L’information psychiatrique

Volume 93, numéro 4, Avril 2017

Au Japon, le phénomène de retrait social désigné par le mot hikikomori touche un nombre important d’individus, selon les enquêtes épidémiologiques. De plus, de nombreuses personnes qui ne sont pas dans cette situation disent « comprendre le sentiment d’être hikikomori ». Face aux enjeux que représente ce phénomène, le gouvernement japonais a ainsi rendu public les résultats d’une nouvelle enquête dont les auteurs présentent les principaux résultats. Il s’agit de données descriptives. Ce travail précis de traduction et de synthèse a pour objectif de rendre accessible à un plus grand nombre de chercheurs et de cliniciens ces données récentes concernant le Japon. Il permet de reposer les contours de la définition et des caractéristiques associées à cette conduite de retrait et de faciliter ainsi la poursuite des recherches et échanges internationaux sur ce phénomène qui n’épargnerait plus aucune société occidentalisée.

Numéro spécial “retrait pathologiques”

Review of Hikikomori



Hikikomori in Japan is the phenomenon of social withdrawal that effects hundreds of thousands of individuals, in which the individual shuts his/herself in their room, generally at their family’s home, for several months or even years without engaging in social relationships. Although the number of articles on this topic is increasing, a thorough review of the literature has yet to be done.


The purpose of this article is to provide a review of psychiatrists’ studies on social withdrawal (hikikomori), bring out the main themes and recurrent problems, and suggest a focus for future research.


I reviewed the literature and identified 53 studies – books, guidelines and articles from 1978 to 2014 – investigating social withdrawal in Japan and outside Japan. I collected articles available from Japanese and international databases such as CiNii, JAIRO, JSTAGE, Web of Science, PubMed, and Scopus. I also summarize and analyze selected psychiatrists’ investigations.


The results are broken down into four sections: first, an introduction to idioms of social withdrawal in Japan; second, an investigation into the insistence of hikikomori as a culture-bound syndrome; third, a description of the competition of two categories for inclusion in the DSM-5 – “hikikomori” and “taijin kyōfushō”; fourth, an analysis of the use of typification by psychiatrists, especially when it involves inventing fictive cases of hikikomori.


The results are coherent with the non-inclusion of hikikomori in the DSM-5, and a specific clinical description of hikikomori cannot be found in the existing scientific literature. Hence, the review suggests that hikikomori is not a syndrome, with a precise and specific clinical description, but an idiom of distress. The persons concerned resist psychiatric treatment for several reasons, the major one being that psychiatrists only meet with a minority of hikikomori cases.

Read article

Postmodern social renouncers

The aim of this research is to transmit and comment on the authentic voices of socially withdrawn subjects and to contribute toward refining subjective inquiry in contemporary Japan. Here, I detail the cases of four individuals visiting Japanese Non Profit Organizations between August 2011 and August 2012. In accordance with my findings, I define socially withdrawn individuals as post-modern social renouncers.

Hikikomori should not be reduced to a mental disorder but should be seen as an idiom of distress and a modality where one can recognize him/herself as a subject, or a mode of enjoyment. I suggest ways of improving qualitative methodology and directions for future research at the intersection of cultural history, anthropology, and subjectivity theory.

Read article

School non-attendance & counseling in Japan

What’s it about?

In this article, I describe the spreading of psychological clinics in Japan by way of a school counselling system implemented to treat truant adolescents and their families. This investigation sheds light on the complex network of associations and certifications, along with details about contemporary Japanese clinicians, how they deal with institutional and patient-related difficulties, and how psychological clinics spread while counselling adolescents.

Why is it important?

One of the goals of this study is to discover a phenomenon that has never been mentioned in existing literature: Japanese high-school dropouts are abandoned by society. Countermeasures to strengthen Japan’s student counselling system are proposed.

Read Article

2016 Hikikomori Survey


In September 2016, the Cabinet Office of Japan published the results of an epidemiological survey focusing on acute social withdrawal (hikikomori). This article summarizes and assesses the major features of the survey. It aims at facilitating research and international exchanges on a mental health and social problem affecting at least 541,000 people in Japan that seems to have spread to industrialized societies.

Read Article Open access

Hikikomori trauma

There are three traumatic dimensions of hikikomori survivors: the trigger of bullying, the traumatic effects of social isolation, and family trauma.

Hikikomori is a struggle inside the home and outside social institutions, against the contemporary practices of the mental health field.

Read article