There are way too many things going through my head right now for me to even attempt to articulate them. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it while I try to organize my scattered mind
I think the hikikomori "phenomenon" in general is fascinating. It's not just something that's prevalent in Japan - it's an issue in East Asian countries in general (they're known as "hidden youths" in China, for example) and I think a lot of it comes from the way mental health is viewed in East Asian culture. There's a lack of understanding in the general population surrounding issues like depression and anxiety, and in a lot of cases those issues are falsely attributed to being lazy. That, and the generally relentless pressure put on Asian children to succeed by their parents can often lead to kids feeling as if their parents only care about them as a series of good grades rather than as a person. It's also fascinating to me that mental health isn't as heavily in the public eye in Asia as it's become in the West - I've encountered a decent volume of psychology research coming from Asian authors over my academic career, so I guess a lot of it doesn't reach more general audiences like it does here.
From personal experience, I can remember my parents being somewhat confused at times when my sister or I have complained about our mental health, because oftentimes in "our" culture, issues like depression are often put down to laziness. Whilst my mental health has never been anything worse than natural highs and lows, at the times when I didn't realise it was normal (and I wasn't emotionally mature enough to exercise proper self-care), it would be pretty frustrating to just hear "work harder" as the magic cure-all. I absolutely despised bringing schoolwork home because of it, and even now as an adult I avoid bringing university work home because I still think it'd end up being an unnecessary source of stress. I'm lucky in the sense that my relationship with my parents was generally okay when school wasn't involved, and that I've had the time and opportunity to figure myself out in an environment that's not my family home.
Anyway, semi-relevant tangent aside, it's very interesting to see the different circumstances that led each of the subjects in the video to their current situation. I feel for Ito (the boy with the glasses and fancy video game setup) because he's currently trapped in the very setting that's caused his hurt. For some, it's a long-term misinterpretation of typical signs of depression that lead to the sufferer being labelled as "lazy" that leads to them withdrawing, for others it's traumatic events that bring about genuine social phobia. The main commonality, though, is that none of them are "incurable". The social withdrawl is a consequence of other things, not the disease itself. It may seem like a very extreme reaction to some, but for a lot of these kids it's the only way they can live in a world that genuinely terrifies them.
The man running all these activities for hikikomori is honestly a hero, and the work he's doing is really inspiring. I know he's an academic and he's aware of the complex range of factors that cause people to withdraw, but his work is actively fighting a stigma that's very heavily ingrained into Asian culture. He's also a part of the older generation that helped contribute to the problem (grandparents pressure parents, who in turn pressure children because it's what they know) - so seeing him talking to elderly people about the issue is fantastic, and shows a willingness of that generation to learn.
Generally speaking, I think all of the individuals suffering with this condition are untapped goldmines of potential just waiting to be unearthed, and I hope all of those who are currently trying to conquer their fears are successful. I'm glad there's documentaries like this that bring proper understanding to their condition, and more importantly that these people are being helped and encouraged to re-join society in a way that's non-threatening.