When I read I don't mutter, so when I gasped aloud I knew I had read something worth quoting somewhere, to someone:
The hikikomori studied and interviewed for Zielenziger's book were not autistic, but bright intelligent people who have discovered independent thinking and a sense of self that the current Japanese environment cannot accommodate.
I'll get to links and references in a minute. An unschooling mom (Meghan, in California) sent me a copy of a movie, a faux documentary, that was on TV I don't get. I didn't watch it when I first got it, but yesterday I watched This is Spinal Tap and started thinking about the value of documentary-for-fun. So I pulled out that tape of "The Confederate States of America." It's a fake documentary done by a fake British Broadcasting system with a fake Canadian historian adding lots of commentary. It's all part of the one big fiction. There are commercials, because it's done as a TV documentary that breaks for commercials, but the commercials are part of the false over-all.
In the program and one of its commercials, they talked about a disease called "drapetomania," and I looked it up, figuring Wikipedia might say it was created for that documentary. No, it was, in the 19th century, a real, medical "mental illness." Drapetomania caused slaves to flee captivity.
So I thought I would look up "school refusal," which I thought would lead to a Japanese term and phenomenon. A few years ago, I spent some time with a Japanese unschooling mom who translated some of my writing (and prefers anonymity) and she said that in Japan they lock kids up in mental hospitals for "school refusal." But it turns out School Refusal was a European disease that spread to the U.S. Somewhere in there as I read, though, I came upon "Hikikomori," which can cause school refusal in Japan.
I'm just pointing out the tip of an iceberg. I don't intend to examine, map or calculate the size and weight of this iceberg. The fact that it exists is plenty for me.
During the slave period in the U.S., it was considered a mental illness to want to escape. Today, 150 years later, there are diseases to describe school children who wish they weren't required by the government to be in school, and it's a disease not to want to leave your house to go out and mingle with the culture at large.
If you don't want to read any more, I don't blame you.
If you do want to read more, I'll make it easy:
C.S.A. the Movie
School Refusal in Children and Adolescents, in The American Family Physician.
School Refusal on wikipedia, which led me to their entry on Hikikomori
which led to
Japan's nervous breakdown, by Michael Zielenziger, excerpts from his book Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created its own Lost Generation. One quote:
Unable to work, attend school, or interact with outsiders, they cannot latch onto the well-oiled conveyor belt that carries young boys from preschool through college, then deposits them directly into the workplace-a system that makes Japan seem orderly and purposeful to outsiders, even as it has begun to break down.Unschoolers, I hope it will lead you to spend extra time with your children today, in peace and joy.