Japanese Studies Professor Publishes Psychological Text

Jeffrey Angles, an associate professor of Japanese studies in the Western Michigan University Department of World Languages and Literatures published a translation of a groundbreaking psychological text from Japan entitled Hikikomori: Adolescence without End, written by psychiatrist Tamaki Saitō. Within just a few months of the book’s publication from the University of Minnesota Press, this book has been earning notoriety around the world from those interested in psychology, psychiatry, sociology and Japanese studies. 

Hikikomori refers to adolescents or young adults who withdraw into their homes, severing almost all ties with the outside world and nervously remain inside with minimal connections to the outside world. Saitō, the Lacanian psychotherapist who wrote the Japanese version of the book, has estimated that there may be as many as one million young hikikomori living in a prolonged state of withdrawal in Japan. 

When the Japanese version of the book was first published in 1998, it became a media sensation in Japan, drawing massive amounts of media attention to the issue of social withdrawal. This controversial and important book is sparking debates about the current categories of medical diagnoses, including the question of universal psychiatric diagnoses. Reviews of Hikikomori: Adolescence without End appear in a wide variety of journals, including the Times Higher Education Supplement, The New Inquiry and Mechademia. The publication was also discussed as part of an hour-long broadcast by the BBC on the issue of social withdrawal in Japan.