Understanding the experiences of hikikomori through the lens of the CHIME framework: connectedness, hope and optimism, identity, meaning in life, and empowerment; systematic review

Jolene Y.K. Yung (Corresponding Author), Victor Wong, Grace W.K. Ho, Alexandros Molasiotis

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Hikikomori is a phenomenon describing people who exhibit behaviors of self-secluding themselves at home for long durations of time and usually only having face-to-face social interactions with none other than family. Existing interventions for hikikomori are inconclusive and the majority are absent in using a theoretical framework to guide its components. Therefore, applicability of the psychosocial recovery framework of Connectedness, Hope and Optimism, Identity, Meaning in Life, and Empowerment (CHIME) towards hikikomori care was reviewed.

Five databases were searched in April 2020 with the search formula from a published systematic review on hikikomori combined with search terms specific to domains of the CHIME framework. Articles included in the review were of the English language, of all publication years, peer-reviewed, quantitative or qualitative research studies and case studies, included study designs that were observational or interventional in nature, and involved populations of socially withdrawn youth.

CHIME’s comprehensive structure and organized approach could guide researchers or service providers in determining areas needing assessments, measurement, and areas of focus. It is suggested that the CHIME framework is applicable after modifying a specific dimension—‘meaning of mental illness experiences’ into ‘meaning of the hikikomori experience’. Thematic overlap occurred between the domains of connectedness, identity, and meaning. Yet, additional dimensions or domains such as trust building, non-linearity, and spatiality can be included for addressing specific limitations in this application, which would help towards catering services to help hikikomori in recovery or in increasing quality-of-life of those individuals’ while entrapped in this withdrawn lifestyle.

CHIME framework could be applicable towards hikikomori care after applying the suggested modifications. Additionally, many knowledge gaps were found in literature during this review that warrants further investigation to improve hikikomori care.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104
JournalBMC psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • Connectedness
  • Empowerment
  • Hikikomori
  • Hope and optimism
  • Identity
  • Meaning in life
  • Recovery
  • Youth in social withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)

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