Hikikomori and Taijin kyofusho : Analyzing Psychopathology Across Cultures
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Taijin kyofusho and hikikomori are mental disorders that are thought to be exclusive to Japan. Hikikomori is a Japanese term used in popular media to describe an individual who withdraws from society. There are even YouTube videos titled Why Do Japanese Men Lock Themselves Inside for Years, to capture the interest of worldwide audience on the topic. According to the Cabinet Office of Japan there are about 696,000 cases of hikikomori in Japan. On the other hand, a quick search on YouTube for videos on taijin kyofusho demonstrates that the mental disorder is not as well-known to the outside world. Although there are as yet no concrete criteria of what makes an individual a hikikomori, for the purpose of this paper the definition for the term will be "those who become recluses in their own home, lasting at least six months, with onset by the latter half of the third decade of life, and for whom other psychiatric disorders do not better explain the primary symptom of withdrawal." In contrast, taijin kyofusho (TKS), which roughly translates to fear of interpersonal relationships, has criteria for the disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV). The main criterion for TKS is the fear of offending others. The individual displaying TKS symptoms would fear that their own appearance, smell or other perceived defect would offend others.