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How can you help a person who doesn’t wish to be helped?


Many hikikomori believe they don’t have any problem and keep saying they wish to be left in peace. This attitude of refusal leads inevitably to conflicts with the parents who, instead, would like to see their child lead a better life, a life “like those of his peers”.

The more determined parents, after long arguments, manage to convince their children to visit a psychologist, but psychotherapeutic paths can reveal themselves to be inconclusive when there is no real intrinsic reason on behalf of the hikikomori to change their state. Often, those who accept to be helped by a professional do so only to “make others happy” and to end the pressures from their family.

Losing You - LY

“I’m fine, why would you force me to live a different life?”

This is one of the main objections that a hikikomori could put forward. And it isn’t necessarily a lie. In that moment they may very well feel fine and strongly desire to carry on their own lifestyle, but does this mean a parent should miss the opportunity to help? No.

The main point is that the hikikomori often gravely underestimate the impact their choice will have on their future wellbeing. They underestimate it or, simply, avoid thinking about it, they don’t care. Outside I’m not well, inside I’m better. From a certain point of view it’s a logical reasoning, linear, and it makes sense. The triumph of “here and now”.

But the right everyone has to live their own life as they will end the moment one’s own choice weighs on the shoulders of others.

Is it possible to help someone that doesn’t want to be helped?

To go back to our original question, the answer is “yes”. Not only is it possible but it is a duty to do so. However, the important thing is one must always bear in mind these three points wich, in my opinion, are fundamental:

  • I’m not doing it for myself: when we at all cost wish to help a person we always have to remember that we are doing it for their own good, not for ours. So the objective shouldn’t be that of pushing our child to live the life we think is best for them, but simply help them find their own way, the way in which we wish they can be happier (even if it doesn’t correspond to our ideal life model);
  • I can help them up to a certain point: the impact our words and our actions can have of the life of another person can never go beyond certain limits. It is our duty to try and help a person we feel is in danger, but at the same time, we can’t act on behalf of that person and our responsibility for their choice is, justifiably, reduced. Everyone is master of their own life, even our child.
  • I have to continue living my life: when you have a child in need you would do anything to help them, even sacrificing one’s own wellbeing. However, an attitude of abnegation risks causing the opposite effect in a hikikomori, who, feeling even greater pressure on themselves from the parents, could react isolating themselves even more. For this reason you should make the effort to keep maintaining a normal life without falling victim to panic or frenzy. The key word is always “patience”. 

These “suggestions are the result of the confrontation between tens and tens of parents of hikikomori who form the Facebook group dedicated to them. They mean to be neither arrogant, nor pretentious and they obviously aren’t the solution to the problem.

Having to deal with a hikikomori child is probably one of the most difficult challenges a parent can face and requires a daily effort that only those who lived it can truly understand.

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