The bizarre case of a hikikomori who went on a berserk killing spree after losing his Internet access, slaughtering his defenceless baby niece and killing his own father, was in fact far stranger than anyone save the family realised – it appears the hikikomori had taken control of the family completely in order to satisfy his obsessive compulsions, finally destroying them when they rebelled against his domination.
The 30-year-old Aichi hikikomori slaughtered his family, viciously hacking to death his 1-year-old niece and 58-year-old father and maiming 3 others, and then burnt down his home in an incident which shocked Japan and further confirmed suspicions that hikikomori can be possessed by psychopathic tendencies which belie their withdrawn exterior.
After he graduated from middle school at 15, the hikikomori-to-be briefly worked at a confectionery factory before falling ill and withdrawing into seclusion at his home; this situation persisted for 15 years, during which time the family was warped into the plaything of the reclusive hikikomori, seemingly existing only to serve his bizarre obsessions.
The family’s 24-year-old second son, who escaped the massacre, explained that far from using his father’s credit card without permission, the hikikomori actually controlled the family’s finances completely, taking his father’s salary and giving his parents an allowance.
Matters began to escalate several years ago when the hikikomori developed an interest in online shopping.
He would use his father’s card to buy photo albums, T-shirts and other items, all of which he would hoard in his room, not even opening them – “every day new packages would arrive, and his room on the second floor was buried in them.”
In fact, the hikikomori had actually taken control of the family finances completely, each month taking his father’s salary and giving him $500 as an allowance, along with a further $400 for his mother.
The rest he kept for himself, evidently squandering it on his collection of boxes. The father, it is said, “just went along with this.”
The family sought advice on how to deal with this “shopping dependence,” and were advised by police and local clinics that they should “stop his card and cancel his Internet access,” which they set about doing to tragic effect.
Upon investigation his father and brother were shocked to discover he had in fact racked up debts of some $25,000 using the card.
They resolved to take action, and had his Internet account ceased, but he merely had it reactivated. After this the father cancelled the contract completely, at which point his son snapped and went on his killing spree.
Although in a case like this it is the hikikomori at whose feet criminal responsibility must ultimately lie, in this and similar cases it appears the parents also bear a grave responsibility – the existence of a hikikomori requires both a parasite and a host, and it is the parents who choose to indulge and harbour their offspring, eventually allowing them to sink into a state of permanent and evidently highly dangerous dependence.
In this respect, far from being lonely aberrations it appears hikikomori are actually the direct creations of their parents.