Interviewed and written by Vosot Ikeida
...Continued from "Guido Round 2"
The Reasons to Have Become a Hikikomori
Vosot: Let me go back to the reason you have become a hikikomori.
I suppose, when one becomes a hikikomori, there would be many reasons in many layers. So, if we try to explain it briefly, it will end up being a statement of just one superficial part of reasons. Earlier you said, the reason to become a hikikomori was “school” and “society”. I would like you to make it deeper. Would you have some more reasons in the deeper layers?
Guido: Yes, there are many more.
First of all, I'm here today because of an inherent difference with the outside world. Since my childhood, I have tried too much to fit myself to the others. Also, I have big problems with my physical aspects. I have motor difficulties called "dyspraxia". For example, I had to spend a lot of time to learn how to tie my laces of shoes. This disorder is said to be rare, 2 to 4% of the population.
Vosot: Ah, that is called so.
Guido: Also, I have problems with my body. I have a weird step. So, without intention, I made my friends “scared” by this movement. I was insulted because of that. And I was bullied on my body.
Vosot: I'm sorry to hear you were bullied.
Guido: The experience to be bullied made me "social phobia" soon. At my age of 11, I was already afraid of meeting people on the street. It made me very uncomfortable to feel people watching me. Because I knew that I looked "weird" physically to their eyes, my feeling that they were watching me had been increased more and more. Thus, I became unable to go out gradually.
Vosot: I know it's so hard once you fall in such a circle.
Guido: Yes, it is. Another problem was that I moved too often in my early childhood. We had to change our residence so many times. It might have been connected with the fact that my father was violent and my mother had to raise me as a single-mother. It was not until the 2nd grade (CE1), at my age of 8 years old, that I could be grown up with the same age of children stably.
The damage was already given by then. I never had roots to attach to. From the beginning, I had some problems that I could not integrate myself into the surrounding people. So I tried to perform a "clown" to make other children laugh for the purpose that they accept me among them. I was turbulent in the class and it made them laugh. I became popular that way.
Vosot: It is so thrilling to listen to your story. I feel like you are talking about my infancy. Please go on.
Guido: My “clown” period lasted until the 10th grade, 16 years old. I had to move and change the school at this time. So I tried to integrate myself to a new school. Obviously the other students had known each other for a long time.
Vosot: 16 years old means the 1st grade of high school in Japan. It'll be hard...
Guido: There, I did not want to perform the "clown" anymore, because it was too painful to keep pretending to be the one in my old classes, though it helped me to make some friends. To come back to this new establishment, I never let myself be integrated. On the other hand, I found them uninteresting and they thought that I was too shy, even mentally retarded, because of my silent character.
How could I have wanted to be friends with the people who cannot tell the difference between shyness and mental retardation? Moreover, it was really at this moment that I understood my difference with the rest of the world.
Vosot: Quite understandable, what you say is.
Guido: I have always been passionate about philosophy, metaphysics, literature, arts, history ... and even though I shared a few similar tastes with them, such as video games or soccer, I found them too "flat" in their conversations.
Thus, I realized that perhaps I was too "mature" to talk with the people of my age. I loved the contact with the elder people than me. But the other students made fun of me, because of this character. They never attacked me physically because I had a well-built body, but they made fun of my physical character and shyness. I was kind enough to let them say whatever they liked. In truth, it did not hurt me so much. They only inspired contempt.
Guido: It may sound paradoxically but I felt alone in the middle of all these people. I felt well only with myself. So I stopped going to school anymore.
Vosot: In Japanese, that is called "futoko"（不登校 / Not Going to School).
Guido: I made my mother believe that I was going to school, but actually the place I was going to was the library. I read hours and hours. But one day, the school asked me to justify my absences.
Vosot: What do you mean by "to justify my absences"?
Guido: That's to say, we have a school notebook. It serves as a bridge between school faculty and parents. It is also a tool for recording important announcements that need to be signed by parents, for example, for school trips. Teachers can also write negative remarks if the student behaved badly in school. The teacher's word must be signed by the parents and the student must show it to the teacher at the next class, so as to prove the information about the student was shared between the two sides.
Vosot: In Japanese schools, we have that too.
Guido: Since I told a lie to my mother, making her believe that I was going to school, she had not checked the notebook. I tried to imitate her signature but it didn’t go well. Thus, the fact that I was not going to school was revealed. The school decided to deport me from the school. Since then, I have been a hikikomori.
Vosot: I see...
Guido: Now my mind is full of fears, so that I cannot go out. Fear to be watched by people, fear to be judged by them, fear to be criticized, and fear to fail.
The social pressure is also one of the causes. The world outside my hikikomori room is not definitely something for me.
What a Hikikomori Wants
Vosot: I quite well understand. I am almost overwhelmed to hear how precisely you are verbalizing the internal world of a hikikomori, the large part of which I surely share with you.
If you can receive RSA from your age of 25, I imagine you will not have any anxiety for the future, and you can survive as a hikikomori for life.
Now what is your problem by being a hikikomori? Loneliness?
Guido: Absolutely not! That is opposite. I love loneliness. I love to be alone.
I love being a hikikomori. I never get bored every day in my hikikomori room.
I don’t know if it is common among other hikikomoris, but this situation of hikikomori does not bother me at all. I can cultivate my own fertile time and do whatever I want without any time constraints. It allows me to avoid social pressures and uncomfortable secular life.
Vosot: What happens, if the society offered you to have their support?
Do you want anything more from the society?
Luxurious life? Comprehension? Empathy?
Guido: I expect nothing special from the society. I just want to be left me alone quietly. I can live in peace with my internal world, not having to meddle outside. I do not have anything that I wait for. Having a girlfriend does not interest me anymore. If I had one, it would be by chance just like the first time. Having children does not interest me either.
I don’t want especially luxurious life either. A computer, a bed, and a console are enough for me to live on.
My only problem might be that I cannot travel. Being a hikikomori in my situation prevents me from having sufficient income to save the money to travel to Japan. But it's not a big problem. I am happy with this very little life.
If I allowed my desire more to be, I would love to write books. It would be such a wonderful life to do something I like and it brings me a little money.
To the Japanese version of this article.
...Continued to Round 4.