The scope and nature of prolonged social withdrawal in Israel: An initial quantitative and qualitative investigation

Or Hareven, Tamar Kron, David Roe, Danny Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: Over the past few decades, prolonged social withdrawal (PSW) among young people has been recognized in several countries. Most research has been quantitative and focused on the characteristics of PSW individuals and their families. Little attention has been given to the valuable perspective of professionals providing service to this population. The purpose of the present study is to identify the characteristics of PSW in Israel, where this phenomenon has not been researched yet. For this initial investigation, the study will utilize a combination of quantitative self-report data from parents of PSW individuals, as well as qualitative data gathered from interviews with mental health professionals who work with this population. Methods: Quantitative data were derived from records of referrals by parents of 121 PSW individuals, and later categorized into apparent characteristics of PSW. Qualitative data was collected through semi-structured interviews conducted with 19 professionals experienced in treating PSW, and later analyzed in a thematic analysis process. Results: Findings from the quantitative data revealed a majority of males (70%) with an average age of 24.2, with previously diagnosed psychiatric conditions (64%). Findings from the qualitative data exposed frequently reported characteristics of PSW individuals and their families, out of which five themes emerged: Family Dynamics, Psychological Characteristics, Typical Behaviors, Past Difficulties, and Present Challenges. Conclusion: This study is the first to identify and report characteristics of PSW in Israel, which are consistent with previous research reported in other countries. The study is highlighting familial characteristics as well as individual ones, while also considering the broader socio-cultural context. These findings draw attention to the importance of notifying the general public, clinicians, researchers, and policymakers in Israel and beyond to the concerning problem of PSW, while contributing to the efforts to develop a map of this barely explored territory.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)301-308
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Social Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2022


  • Hikikomori
  • hidden youth
  • isolation
  • prolonged social withdrawal
  • reclusion
  • severe social withdrawal

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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