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Hikikomori: the dark room of adolescence

Hikikomori: the dark room of adolescence.

"Staying here, nobody sees me so in practice I don't exist and I'm just a ghost."

Marco Brocca, 25 years old on July 31, opened the doors of his room or perhaps, it would be more correct to say, of his life to the journalist Andrea Priante, pen of the Corriere della Sera, now available in the online version of the newspaper, to tell what which for many years has been his unease towards our society.

“I stopped going out when I was 18. Here (indicating a small study in the basement of the house) I spend all my day, I go upstairs just to sleep and eat, but sometimes I have dinner directly in front of the computer. Thanks to the internet and video games in recent years I have known people from all over the world. I know it's not the same as hugging or looking in the eyes of a true friend, but it's still difficult for me to trust people. "

As a boy Marco suffered from a dermatitis problem, he says, “I had damaged skin, I was very thin and with deep dark circles due to the fact that at night I did not sleep because of the irritations: they nicknamed me Zombi".

From here onwards a rapid escalation of marginalization and bullying "The more time passed the more I felt wrong, even the teachers seemed not to understand my problems, they treated me like a slacker".

At thirteen the parents gave Marco a computer “at the beginning I didn't use it much, then I started playing World of Worcraft: you create a character and you enter a sci-fi world. There were thousands of players and, especially at the time, nobody asked you for the photo or your real name. It was a beautiful feeling: I was not judged there for my appearance and finally I could feel the same as everyone else. "

From that moment Marco starts to spend all his free time on the computer and while his parents are leaving the decision to stop studying is ripe “it was useless to continue: at the mere idea of ​​going to school I was sick. I felt like a broken glass to which nobody lent a hand to put the pieces back together. So I excluded myself from everything, which is the most effective way of not allowing people to hurt me as they have done so many times in the past. "

Marco is just one of many guys hikikomore.

In Italy it is estimated that one in every 250 individuals is subject to behavior at risk of social imprisonment.

In 2013, according to the Italian Society of Psychiatry, about 3 million Italians between 15 and 40 years of age suffered, albeit in different forms, from this pathology.

However, erroneously, this disorder is all too often associated or confused with culture nerd and / or geek or more frequently still as a simple internet addiction.

With the Japanese term hikikomori (引 き 籠 も り or 引 き こ も り, literally "stand aside, isolate yourself", from the words hiku "Pull" e komoru "Withdraw") are all those subjects who have chosen, arbitrarily, to withdraw from social life, often reaching extreme levels of isolation and / or confinement within the walls.

The lifestyle of the hikikomori It is often characterized by an inverted sleep-wake cardiac rhythm, they may appear unhappy and aggressive towards their parents or closest family members, but surely emblematic element is the replacement of social relationships with those mediated via the internet.

Although this pathology leads, as clarified, to self-exclusion, the data regarding the incidence of suicides among adolescents appears reassuring hikikomori which, fortunately, remains low.

A possible explanation can be found in the fact that despite the fact that, over time, their desire to end their social existence materializes, in these subjects, a form of self-satisfaction and narcissism takes over, which often saves their lives. .

The spread of the phenomenon originated in Japan, from the first half of the eighties, with a substantial increase in the late nineties.

According to some sources in the second half of the two thousand years the Japanese involved were even a million, about 1% of the population.

However, the reliability of the data on the incidence of the phenomenon is affected by various factors, such as the reticence of families to report cases or, on the contrary, a poor knowledge of the phenomenon.

It is also interesting to note that very often minors affected up to male, firstborn and medium-high social class.

Of course it is hikikomori it is not a phenomenon that only affects Japan.

In France, for example, according to experts, the number of hikikomori it would be around tens of thousands.

Cases also found in Spain Argentina, Bangladesh, India, Taiwan, China, South Korea.

According to a 2012 study in Hong Kong alone, the number of social inmates was around 18.500, three times the figure found in 2005.

A 2007 study was also interesting where the correlation of the state of was highlighted hikikomori with the presence of secondary mental disorders, with 5 cases out of 27 with a high pervasive developmental disorder and 12 cases presenting disorders such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, personality disorder.

“Until three years ago, I had never heard the word hikikomori. A boy told me about it one evening. I studied on the internet and suddenly it was as if I had taken a burden: there were other people like me, I wasn't the only alien on this earth. "

Today thanks to the support of a therapist and the AHikikomori Italy association Marco says he feels more confident even though he is convinced that his mother is the only person who can truly understand what is happening to him.

Patrizia, the mother, listening to these words, with emotion, spreads her arms “it is not easy to be the parent of a self-excluded boy. I felt guilty for not knowing how to "save" him and his was a world that at first I couldn't understand. Over the years I have tried to get closer to him and today I have learned to accept him. I would like to help him build a future that, I hope, will see him out of that room ".

Talking about it, as in cases of bullying, is not only the first step, but the only way to remedy difficulties, which is why there are more and more associations that make available to minors and family, a team of trained experts and ready to intervene in case of need.

Priante's interesting article ends with a question “and Marco, how do you see yourself in ten years? In the evening, in bed, I often ask myself. Now I'm not happy, I often feel alone, yet I can't imagine if I will still find myself in here, or in a bar with friends. I hope, however, that my experience will serve other children, so that they will find the courage to get help before it is too late. Above all, I want society to notice us hikikomori, who knows that they exist and that we are more and more, because that day, finally, we will no longer be ghosts ".

<< Who doesn't know how to populate his solitude, doesn't even know how to be alone in the busy crowd >> Charles Baudelaire.

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