A Singaporean man in his late 20s, who became a social recluse after being retrenched three years ago and being unable to secure another job, has suffered another setback with his wife choosing to divorce him.
Chris (not his real name) was so traumatised by the setbacks in his professional life that he withdrew from all social contact.
Refusing to leave his house, even to get his hair cut, Chris chose to do everything from home. Holed up in his apartment, Chris would game obsessively, while his wife became the sole breadwinner with her clerical job.
Chris even sought counselling from the comfort of his own home. He had Skype sessions with Mr Praveen Nair, a psychologist at Raven Counselling and Consultancy, who told the press that “It was almost like the house was a safety blanket.”
Soon, however, Chris’ behaviour began causing tensions with his wife, who ended up divorcing him last year. It remains unclear whether Chris has overcome his situation.
Experts believe that Chris is a hikikomori – someone who is engulfed in psychological distress and isolates themselves, avoiding all social contact, for at least six months.
People who are considered hikikomori are seen as suffering from a distinct psychiatric disorder in which they may become social recluses if they feel they have failed in school or in their career, given societal expectations of what success should look like. It could also be triggered by low self-esteem and perceived social rejection.
Mr Ray Chua, a senior psychologist at National University Hospital’s department of psychological medicine, told the national broadsheet that he has seen six cases of such socially reclusive behaviour in recent years and that all of these six clients were adolescent males.
He told the press: “Prolonged social isolation creates a lot of stress for the caregivers, who worry about how the hikikomori individual is going to care for himself or herself when caregivers are no longer able to support him or her.” -/TISG