The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m a male university student in my 20s. I feel a strong sense of inferiority because I’m ugly and bad-natured. My head is unusually large for my short stature and also ill-shaped. My face looks terrible, and my legs are short. I’m cheerless because I’ve avoided communicating with people as much as possible so that my poor appearance won’t make them feel uncomfortable.
I’m also worried that I have very few topics to talk about because I’ve been restricted to reading manga, playing games or watching TV since I was very young. Some fictions feature a hikikomori recluse who is saved by support from someone else. But my only option is keeping myself reclusive because I end up offending those who extend me a helping hand.
As I feel unhappy more and more often, I considered going to a hospital. But on second thought, I decided not to because I felt it would just inconvenience someone if I seek advice about this kind of thing.
My problem is probably nothing to worry about, compared to those facing disabilities or diseases. But I’m on the verge of a breakdown.
M, Nagano Prefecture
Dear Mr. M:
Your letter told me two things: One is that you are a perfectionist. The other is that you are very haunted. Let me explain one by one.
I can see your perfectionism from the way you use words. Bad, large, short, cheerless, uncomfortable — all these descriptions sound somewhat extreme. You speak as if people are either good-looking or bad-looking, and cheerful or cheerless, and it seems that there’s no in-between in your world. In reality, we are all somewhere between good-looking and bad-looking, and good-natured and ill-natured.
You’re also haunted by a number of phantoms. Your letter sounds like many “others” feel uncomfortable about you, but all of them live only in your imaginary world. It’s probably because you’ve avoided communicating with others as much as possible since you were young. You’ve been terrified by phantoms in your mind that you created on your own.
Your perfectionism and phantoms did not spring up overnight. I suggest, at the outset, you review your relationship with your parents. Restricting young children’s entertainment can take away their freedom and prevent cultivating their sensitivity.
In my opinion, you need the help of medical professionals to ease your anguish. They provide advice to those who are suffering as a part of their profession. Why do you think they are troubled by you? Before I finish writing, I’ll give you a shout as my small encouragement. “Pain, pain, go away!”
Hazuki Saisho, writer