Another possible culture-bound syndrome from my favorite place! 2-D Love refers to people who obsessively fall in love with objects imbued with anime cartoon images. In the case of this article the love object is a pillow with an anime women character printed on it. My feeling is that this may be a specialized case of Taijin Kyofusho, a social anxiety disorder that often results in avoidance of others. While it is my belief that this syndrome is not limited to Japan but is found anywhere in the world where slacker adults move into their parent’s basement, the Japanese version is colored in unique ways. One of these ways is an obession with anime – the so-called Otaku culture. If this obession leads to interaction with real human beings then it is likely healthy, but if it becomes a defensive excuse to become isolated from other people then it may be a form of Taijin Kyofusho.
Both Taijin Kyofusho and 2-D Love may be related to another culture-bound syndrom called Hikikomori. In this disorder teenage boys refuse to engage in any way with the outside world, essentially becoming hermits in their parents home. These boys may stay inside for years at a time. The onset of Hikikimori behavior is typically related to a negative incident related to school – bullying, bad grades, or a failed attempt at romance.