Man with Hikikomori Syndrome lives with mom's corpse for two weeks

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We've also included tips on treating people with Hikikomori syndrome.

In Japan, there’s a big social problem where children and teens shy away from school, confining themselves at home instead. In medical terms, it’s know as the Hikikomori syndrome (indicated by extreme social withdrawal), and can have serious repercussions on a person at many levels.

However, it doesn’t only happen to kids. Even adults can have serious issues trying to get back to society, especially after a loved one passes away. 

Man found living with dead mother’s corpse

Recently in Japan, police took a man into custody after discovering that instead of reporting his mother’s death, he had actually lived with her corpse for a few weeks. 

The man, aged 49, was suffering from “hikikomori syndrome” and had lived with his mum, aged 76.

According to reports, the man’s younger sister found their mum’s body when she visited him on 4th November.

Upon investigation, authorities concluded that the mum passed away naturally or from a sickness, as the man’s psychological condition made him incapable of murder. The mum’s corpse also didn’t have any physical wounds.

At first, the man discovered his mother’s unconscious body on the kitchen floor. Having no idea what to do, the man dragged her to her bedroom, where he placed her on the bed.

He later announced in a written statement that “I couldn’t do anything [after my mother died], so I decided to wait until the next time my sister came.”

hikikomori syndrome

Hikikomori syndrome, or social withdrawal, happens when young and old alike stay confined at their homes. | Image Source: Stock Photo

A quick overview of hikikomori syndrome

Hikikomori syndrome is a severe social problem in Japan. Some hikkikomoris limit themselves to moving inside the house. In really serious cases, hikkikomoris won’t even step out of their their room.

Often times, the patients range from young to old. Even consistent refusal to go to school can gradually become hikikomori syndrome. Adults with hikikomori syndrome can even stay in their room for years.

Parents of people with hikikomori syndrome then have to bear the burden of looking after their children – no matter their age. 

In this case, the 49-year-old might have had hikikomori syndrome for a long time, since authorities learned he nearly couldn’t talk with others during his arrest on 5th November.

Social pressure can push people to become increasingly withdrawn — and eventually get hikikomori syndrome.

Authorities have accused the man on the basis of abandoning a corpse. However, his present psychological condition might warrant a lighter sentence.

The man now doesn’t have any parents to look after him. He will probably find it tough to move back into and become a part of the society he left, since survival needs counts on being a self-sustaining individual.

How to prevent and treat hikikomori syndrome

There are several studies that suggest solutions for hikikomori syndrome. One Japanese study suggested giving medication and regular jogging which improved the symptoms. Another program from Sweden also provides the following tips to prevent and treat the condition:

  • therapists assess the every aspect of the situation by asking
    • why the child refuses to attend school (family issues, school problems, perhaps?)
    • family and school staff about school conditions (stresses, bullying, lifestyle etc)
  • once therapists have a clear idea of the issue, they conduct a behavioral analysis and propose which behaviours need to improve and toned down.
  • then, achievable, realistic goals and targets are set for the child. It follows changes to lifestyle habits like:
    • sleeping well at night
    • waking up not too early nor too late
    • not using the internet excessively 
    • guiding them on how to handle anxiety and negative thoughts about school;
    • giving parents and teachers guidance on supporting social interaction and discourage avoidance behaviors;
    • coaching and practising social skills;
    • nurturing kids to socialise with peers
    • and methods to cope with family conflict.
hikikomori syndrome

Parents have a key role to play in helping their child get through hikikomori syndrome. | Image Source: Stock Photo

What about in serious cases where my child won’t even step out of his room or speak to me?

The key, parents, is to not give up. Yes, stay outside his room and speak to him. You can even slip letters or paper below the door before returning tomorrow, or try using email or Skype. 

It’s critical to find good ways for two way communication so that your child will slowly accept you in his world. Then, try and instill hope. 

The child or person with social withdrawal will also need the support from others, like the program above. However, it’s crucial for them to occasionally be off the internet and experience reality. Once their confidence improves, we can start with small steps – such as leaving the room, or going out for a walk – before slowly going back to school.

References: Asiaone, NCBI

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Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore

 

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