Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Tell Dr. Fink What You Think

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Tell Dr. Fink What You Think

Article excerpt

Join Dr. Paul J. Fink on a rambling tour of the contemporary scene.

Coming Next Month:

"No man is an island, entire of itself," English poet John Donne famously declared. But Donne's immortal 17th century maxim maybe under assault on the 21st century island nation of Japan. A country that prizes communal commitment over individualism is grappling with a troubling antisocial phenomenon: hikikomori, or "withdrawal." Increasing numbers of young adults, mostly young men, are shunning work and social contact--literally shutting themselves in their rooms for months and even years at a time.

Hikikomori's origins are as elusive as its estimated 1 million victims. Although mental illness may drive some of Japan's shut-ins into a reclusive state, experts assert that most of them retreat without showing any signs of psychiatric problems. The answers may lie in any number of factors, including failure to meet extreme expectations to perform well in school, overindulgent parents, and the breakdown of postwar Japan's implicit guarantee of lifetime employment.

For Discussion: Is there an unrecognized American equivalent of Japan's hikikomori phenomenon? What psychiatric and nonpsychiatric factors--from parenting styles to social expectations-can spur extreme social withdrawal among young adults? What strategies can clinicians use to find and reach those who have created their own social, mental, and emotional "islands"?

Is laughter good medicine? …

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