A review of prolonged social withdrawal behaviour (a.k.a. Hikikomori) As one of the emerging youth issues across diverse contexts

Streaming Media


Department of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University

Event Title

Sociology Seminar Series 2021-2022

Document Type

Public Seminar




11:00am - 12:30pm


LYH308, 3/F, Lau Lee Yuen Haan Amenities Building


Sociology and Social Policy


Youth (dis)engagement in various aspects has become an important issue in many high-income and aging-population countries. In particular, the growing group of young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET) has become a great concern. Prolonged periods of socio-political-educational disengagement can lead to marginalization, dependence, loneliness, powerlessness, increased use of drugs and criminal activity, homelessness, and social-political-civil apathy and distrust of authorities and governments. Pathological social withdrawal refers to long-term social withdrawal/disengagement and self-exclusion for over six months – including non-attendance at school or work, and with minimal contact with friends, family and society – in the absence of other psychiatric diagnoses. This is possibly the worst condition of NEET and has raised serious concerns around the world after COVID-19. Although first classified as a culturally specific condition within Japan (termed hikikomori) because of Japan’s nobility of solitude and major structural changes in the last 1980s, similar cases have been recently identified in other Asian settings (Hong Kong, South Korea), some low-middle-income countries (Bangladesh, India, Iran, Thailand), and Western countries (Australia, UK, US). The aim of this presentation is to provide a review of the literature on its existing explanatory frameworks, prevalence rates among various countries, identified contributing factors, empirical-supported interventions, and potential preventive progammes.



Additional Information

Speaker Biography

Dr. Paul Wong is a clinical psychologist and an Associate Professor in the Department of Social Work and Social Administration, The University of Hong Kong. He has been involving in suicide prevention research and mental health promotion and practice since 2003. His recent research projects include youth social withdrawal behaviour, using animals as part of educational and psychological interventions, youth positive development of local and non-Chinese young people, and family care giving for people with psychological issues. His main research theme aims to promote social inclusion in our society and has published about 90 academic articles and book chapters. He is also Fellows of the Hong Kong Psychological Society and the Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association. He is the Programme Directors of the Master of Social Science (Counselling). He teaches courses on mental health related topics, communication and counselling skills, and research methods. He is keen to supervise PhD students who have interests in youth development, human-animal interactions, and hikikomori.

Recommended Citation

Wong, P. W. C. (2021, November 18). A review of prolonged social withdrawal behaviour (a.k.a. Hikikomori) As one of the emerging youth issues across diverse contexts [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://commons.ln.edu.hk/videos/916/