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A culture-bound syndrome found almost exclusively in Japan, most commonly among male teenagers and young adults, especially eldest sons, although about a quarter of cases are female. It is characterized by extreme social withdrawal and near-total severance of contact with the outside world, without any other evidence of psychiatric or neurological disorder, usually triggered by an upsetting experience, such as being bullied, failing an examination, or experiencing a broken love affair. People with the disorder usually lock themselves in their bedrooms and refuse to come out for weeks, months, or years. The disorder was first recognized in the 1970s, and the word hikikomori was first applied to it by the Japanese Health and Welfare Ministry in 1991. Compare agoraphobia, social phobia. [From Japanese hikikomori social withdrawal, from hikikomoru to stay indoors or shut oneself indoors]

Subjects: Psychology.

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