This thesis is an investigation into the phenomenon of acute social withdrawal in Japan, a phenomenon popularly referred to as 'hikikomori'. In both Japanese and international media, the phenomenon has received much attention as a social malaise unique to Japan’s culture and society. I have assessed various strands of the discourse on hikikomori and discussed elements I have thought relevant for the emergence and continued interest of this phenomenon. Who are the most central figures in discourse, how is culture relevant, how is the phenomenon portrayed, what are the characteristics of the focus on the phenomenon and which events have contributed to the attention hikikomori has received? These are some of the questions I have tried to answer through the descriptions, discussions and analysis in this thesis. I hope to provide clues and explanations as to why this phenomenon has gained so much attention in Japan as a culturally specific and unique phenomenon as well as a social label or identity. I also wish to find positive and negative effects the discourse have had on the practical level of finding a solution to the hikikomori problem.