Why do i want to isolate myself

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    Also visit the online treatment locator.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.

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Last Updated: 08/30/2022

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Why do people voluntarily isolate themselves from society?

Scientists believe that in the modern world, the desired, conscious loneliness is becoming epidemic. There was even a whole philosophy of hikikomori - under the Japanese term they united people who refuse to live a full life in the real world and strive for an extreme degree of social isolation. Most often, hickeys are unemployed and live dependent on relatives.


Ruslan is 27 years old. Not so long ago, a young man got a job, moved into a rented apartment and started dating a girl. Before that, there were two and a half years of isolation in his room, a strong unwillingness to change something in a new way of life, and then treatment in a psychiatric clinic. Ruslan found out that he was a victim of the hikikomori phenomenon when he found several dozen virtual friends who preach the philosophy of seclusion.

— Since childhood, I have been uncomfortable in society, I did not have close friends, and my relationship with my parents left much to be desired. I remember well how my world gradually narrowed down to the size of a room. First, I stopped going out somewhere on weekends, then I started skipping work in order to be near the computer as soon as possible, then I sent everything and everyone to hell, except for social networks and computer games, the young man recalls. - I felt comfortable and calm, any attempts by my parents to force me to leave the “shelter” ended in hysteria and the threat of suicide. I really began to fear life outside my father's apartment. An adult guy, peers already started families, and I continued to be a frightened child, not adapted to life. Slept, ate, sat at the computer, listened to music. Could not wash for weeks. Communicated only with the same hickeys in social networks. It turns out that there are hundreds of thousands of us - in Russia, Ukraine, the USA, Japan, Germany ... I still correspond with some of them.

Mother and father did not immediately, but resigned themselves to the fact that their only son does not leave the apartment at all. I lived completely at their expense, I understood that this was not normal, but I was so afraid of returning to society that I preferred to “parasite” on my relatives - just not to take any responsibility.

Two years after I became hickey, my father had a stroke. A healthy person went to work, and two weeks later the “vegetable” returned home from the hospital. It took a lot of money for a nurse, rehabilitation. And my mother lost her nerve: for the first time she threw me a full-fledged scandal and literally forced me to leave the apartment to the pharmacy for medicine. I still remember the smell of the April young leaves that year: I had not inhaled anything like it for what seemed like an eternity. It was scary to cross the road, it was scary to ask a pharmacist a question. It's like I'm back in the past from the future.

Most of all I wanted to close myself in my room again and not go anywhere. But money in the family was sorely lacking. I had to turn to a psychotherapist for help: I ​​could not force myself to return to society and get a job. Now life is slowly getting better. It turns out that I had a severe form of depression, from which I was cured. Strange, because I did not feel unhappy: I liked being a "hermit" ...

Why did the phenomenon of hikikomori develop in the age of high technology? There are several reasons, counts psychologist, psychotherapist Mikhail Dernakovsky . Firstly, we have an economically independent and financially secure middle class, which, on the one hand, can afford to support their children for quite a long time (the phenomenon of hikikomori is not common among poor people), and on the other hand, it is quite independent in its views and positions to support their unconventional life scenarios. Secondly, since the end of the 20th century, mothers and fathers have become more attentive and tender towards their sons and daughters, put less pressure on them and more actively indulge their desires and whims. The third important reason is that teenagers and adults have the opportunity not only to continuously spend all their free time on the Internet, watching movies, TV shows, playing games, but also to provide almost all basic needs online. And if at the same time there is a source of money, for example, in the person of parents, then people with the hikikomori philosophy choose this path.

- Hikikomori is sometimes associated with the phenomenon of escapism, in which a person, as it were, runs away from reality into a world of dreams and imagination: into computer games, invented universes (for example, the worlds of Tolkien or Marvell), etc.

- Being in imaginary world, the "escaper" can feel like someone more significant, fulfilled. He no longer needs to prove something to someone in reality, explains Mikhail Dernakovsky. — If you look at the dynamics of modern cinematography, books, art, we will see that science fiction and films have moved from expansionist content aimed at conquering space, new countries, etc., to autistic ideas of virtual reality, artificial intelligence. Mankind has striven to know itself "from within". Why would a modern young man build a career and make any effort if he can pretty quickly make himself a billionaire, president, warrior hero or beauty princess with any appearance in some virtual game? This phenomenon borders on the phenomenon of addictive (dependent) behavior. Only here the dependence is not on alcohol and drugs, but on computer games, TV shows and solitude.

— Are hickeys normal in terms of health?

- A number of psychiatrists who studied the adherents of this movement found in many of them various personality disorders of a schizoid nature, manifested by a decrease in the need for social contacts and emotional closeness, a tendency to immerse themselves in their inner world. Approximately 25 percent of hikikomori exhibit autism spectrum disorders and, in particular, Asperger's syndrome (autism associated with high intelligence). Such people often have social phobias and generalized anxiety disorder, when a person is afraid to go out, realizing the irrationality of his anxiety. There are also victims of dysmorphophobia among Hikki - they unnecessarily overestimate the significance of some flaws in their appearance and avoid people because of them. There are also enough people who are prone to depressive disorders, when, against the background of a bad mood, a person paints the past, future and present in negative tones and loses the need for social contacts. However, 30-35 percent of hikikomori do not suffer from any mental disorders.

- Is Hickey a "parasite" or a sufferer?

- This is a very heterogeneous group of people. There are both sufferers of certain mental illnesses, and people who are completely satisfied with the life they lead, sitting on the neck of their parents or relatives. Usually hickeys do not leave the house for months, or even years. They spend time playing computer games, watching movies, series, anime, reading comics, books, listening to music. They do not develop, most often they do not work, and if they do, it is only through the Internet and not very responsibly. Most of them are fine, but there are people who have serious problems at home, while the need to communicate with someone causes them fear, tremendous stress. Moreover, after a few months, the skill to maintain real contact is lost, and many are not ready to learn it again.

Hiccups usually become after some kind of social upheaval at a young age (18-25 years), and this occurs due to the reaction of flight from society home. Friends quickly forget about them. Parents at first resist the new philosophy of the child, but then they stop fighting and accept this way of life. Those who have already known true love or friendship, proven over the years, are less likely to be affected by hikikomori. Hickey's companions are poor nutrition, lack of light, constant psychological pressure. After a while, they lose their strength and desire to change anything, and some come to the conclusion that they are losers and worthless people. Mentally, they reject standard social life and believe that being a hikikomori is incomparably better. Forcibly returned to society, hickeys at the first opportunity become recluses again.

— If you cannot act violently, what should you do?

— Yes, the situation is like in the proverb about Borjomi and the liver. That is why prevention of such behavior is important: the child must be taught communication skills from childhood. Only by knowing how to make contacts, build relationships and correctly protect their boundaries, he will learn to enjoy communication. Family traditions are also important, and how it is customary for parents to communicate with each other, and how they interact with children. If both the mother and father and the child spend all the time near the tablet, then it is no wonder that later he will experience serious difficulties in establishing contacts with society.

If a hickey has any kind of mental illness, he certainly needs the help of a psychotherapist. Moreover, hickey should want to get out of seclusion himself. This requires communication. Most often, such people do not make real contact, but they can communicate normally via the Internet. In Japan, there are special clubs for hikki, where people learn to socialize and enjoy real life (by the way, it is somewhat reminiscent of Alcoholics Anonymous groups). A close person or friend can also help a hickey leave seclusion, there are quite a few such examples.



Japanese culture is quite specific. Loneliness is considered here as a manifestation of asceticism and knowledge of oneself and the world around in solitude. This is a certain stage necessary for human development. That is why many Japanese perceive hikki as the successors of the traditions of the hermits of bygone centuries. But is such an approach to loneliness typical for us, the countries of the former USSR? No. Why, then, are there hickeys both in Belarus and in Russia?

As Mikhail Dernakovsky explains, the religious and spiritual Eastern Christian cultural tradition of hermitage and solitude is fundamentally no different from the Japanese Buddhist-Shinto tradition. Take, for example, monasticism. The very word "monk" implies "monos" - loneliness, solitude and seclusion. And there have always been monks in our culture, even in Soviet times. Remember the seclusion of Sergius of Radonezh, at the suggestion of which there was a liberation from the Tatar-Mongol yoke, the Optina elders, sung by Dostoevsky in The Brothers Karamazov in the person of the elder Zosima. Eastern Christian “hesychasm” is a kind of “Orthodox mental yoga”, which originates from the Athos hermits and spread in the Russian Empire at the end of the 19th century. If we dig even deeper, we will see that, according to the Gospel, John the Baptist also led a hermitic life, and even Jesus Christ retired to the wilderness before preaching. There is also a literary and cultural glorification of hermitage. Suffice it to recall, for example, Oblomov from Goncharov's novel, who lay in bed all the time and almost never left the house, or the positive literary heroes of the century before last, who led a secluded lifestyle, read a lot, and studied science.

From the revelations on the forums

• “…I communicated with a very narrow circle of people, and after our paths diverged, I realized that I no longer need to come into contact with society. At the age of 18, I practically stopped leaving the house. Occasionally I went to the institute for tests and exams, and then because I was forced to. I was diagnosed with clinical depression at the age of 21 and took antidepressants for a while. Now I only go out to the store when I need to. Every time I leave the house, it's a big stress for me. It is difficult for me to solve some banal everyday issues, for example, I don’t know what to do and whom to call if the toilet is clogged. I'm afraid of phone calls and doorbells because I'm not expecting anyone. I prefer to suffer from pain, for example, a toothache, than to leave the house to the clinic ... "

“…It has always been difficult for me to find a common language with my peers. I grew up closed, I had no friends at school. All my life my parents told me that people can and should be trusted, that they are kind and sympathetic, and that when I grow up, I will have everything - you just have to want to. But they missed an important point: everything will be fine, but this must be achieved, difficulties must be overcome. Life has put me in front of the fact that only children live well, and then before school, so I isolated myself from the world: I moved away from others and try not to go out. I am not afraid of people, I am afraid of a reality for which I was not prepared. I do not want and do not know how to live in society. But I have a lot of free time: I watch movies, cartoons, videos, concerts, listen to music, write fanfiction. I often correspond with roleplayers and anime people from different cities. Sometimes, for fun, I talk to someone from my collection of transformer toy cars. They know how to listen…”

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Complete isolation: what can be good in life without communication?

  • Madeleine Dory
  • BBC Capital

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BBC Capital 's reporter for one month withdrew face-to-face contact with friends and acquaintances to see how it would affect her work. The results surprised her.

The secret to success in life can be very simple.

I have interviewed many very famous artists, writers and entrepreneurs in the creative industry, and when asked how they manage to do so much, to be so productive, they usually answer: “You see, I am almost out of society. there is no other life but work."

Where does the time go

I am a freelancer, I work from home, unlike my friends who have to rush to the office every morning.

As for me, active communication with friends is a basic need of any person.

However, when I began to figure out how much precious time I was wasting on this very communication, I realized that perhaps I was overdoing it.

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I calculated that on average 22 hours or more a week I spend on parties. And I decided to completely cut off all face-to-face contacts with friends and acquaintances for a month and see how this will affect my work, health and well-being.

I realized that sometimes I went somewhere simply out of fear of missing out on something important, because I couldn't say no, but also because I wanted to find a decent excuse to take a break from work.

image copyrightGetty Images

Image caption,

Moments of reflection and wandering thoughts are very important for creative work

So, for a month I refused to meet in a cafe for a cup or two of coffee or a glass or two of wine, from joint dinners, parties and any other events, unrelated to my work.

After 31 days

On the first day of the experiment, I had to deal with a deep-seated fear of missing out on something important.

For me this is often associated with what I call the tyranny of choice: when there are several options to spend a Saturday night and you are tormented by not knowing which one to choose.

But as time went on day by day, this anxiety began to subside and I became more relaxed.

Now I had only one option for Saturday night - to stay at home, and this restriction made life easier for me in a strange way.

I used to scold myself when I stayed at home on a Friday night or left a party too early.

However, during the experiment, I felt unexpected satisfaction from working, reading, or watching movies at home. And I don’t get hung up on what would be more interesting that I could do instead.

A life devoid of entertainment has allowed me to do "deep work immersions" (as computer science professor Cal Newport calls the ability to focus on particularly difficult tasks).

I was no longer distracted by the thought that I could spend this time in some other way, more fun.

I began to manage to build into my working week such "pockets" of special concentration, the time of which used to be eaten by parties.

On Friday evening, I could now deal with urgent bureaucratic issues, and on Saturday morning I could write an article, sitting in a cafe.

Feel the beauty of idleness

In addition to having more time to work, I began to notice changes in my well-being.

I started cooking more at home, exercising daily, going to bed earlier, reading more and generally enjoying the moments of rest and idleness during the day.

Despite all the new activities for which I have time, this very time has become much more than I expected. So I was faced with idleness and loneliness.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

For fear of missing out on something important, we fill our calendars with things we could do without

I have learned to find beauty in doing nothing and enjoying moments of solitude.

I began to walk more without a specific goal, sat in a cafe without looking at my smartphone, and plunged into dreams, not trying to fill every minute of my life with something.

Such thoughtfulness and aimless wanderings of thought are very important for creative activity.

Your mind is immersed in memories, emotions, and accumulated knowledge at a depth that it is rarely able to reach in ordinary moments, notes Amy Fries, author of "Dream While Working. Unleash Your Creativity" and editor of the journal "Psychology Today".

During the experiment, new ideas regularly came into my head, I figured out how to remake existing projects.

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Doing nothing can be just as refreshing and energizing as socializing. We need it, emphasizes Pedro Diaz, Executive Director of the Sydney Institute for Mental Health in the Workplace (Australia).

There is also a 2016 study that says the same thing: in its course, 48 people recorded their feelings about their mental state, mood, fatigue and stress for 12 days.

Extrovert behavior was found to improve mood and energy levels. But at the same time, this behavior led to a higher level of fatigue, coming after only three hours.

The study group was, of course, small, but nevertheless the results confirm that any purposeful social activity - whether it be work, study or a party - has its consequences for our health.

And this raises a serious question: maybe it's not work and communication as such that lead to overwork, but the lack of proper pauses, breaks?

"We don't understand the importance of periods of loneliness. And most people don't even know what they need to do to properly rest their nervous system and brain," says Diaz.

In our society, where the only criterion for success is work, it is quite difficult to come to terms with the idea that the inevitable consequence of this work can be abstinence from communication.

Image copyright, Getty Images

Image caption,

Extrovert behavior leads to higher levels of fatigue

"When you let people know you're very busy, it's like a signal of your high status, your importance, your being in demand," says Silvia Belezza, co-author of a Harvard Business School study that says people view lifestyle with

Pitfalls of life without friends

The positive effects of living alone - for example, greater clarity of thought, a feeling of replenishment of mental resources - may lose their appeal when alone takes too long

For many, working in an office, communicating with colleagues is one of the important elements of work, and those who have a best friend who is one of their colleagues are seven times more likely to actively engage in work.

Workplace camaraderie enhances a sense of common purpose and support from peers, provides professional advice, and leads to career advancement.

Of course, communication outside of work is also an important way to establish contacts with colleagues.

Just one month out of communication did not affect my relationship with existing clients. But if I continued the life of a hermit, I would have fewer opportunities to make new contacts.

Work and leisure

Perhaps we are struggling with the right work-life balance in vain. It looks like better results can be achieved by integrating one into the other.

Ellen Galinsky, president and co-founder of the Family and Work Institute (New York, USA), found that "multi-purpose" people, those whose life is not focused on one thing, who have interests and priorities in different areas, not only at work, they experience more satisfaction from their lives.

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Image caption,

Socializing and hanging out is only bad if we don't take proper breaks

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"We found that these people tend to be healthier, more successful at work and more prosperous in their personal lives," says Galinsky.

"If you focus on only one thing in your life, then there is a danger that everything will go downhill when you fail in this one thing that is important to you. And when there are other things that are important to you - creative hobbies, sports , social work, relationships with friends - you usually achieve more in life.

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