New Delhi: Some scholars have linked the recent starvation of two sisters in their Noida residence with ‘Lonely Deaths’, a medical term used in Japan to describe people who choose to die in reclusion.

A Japanese researcher says his country has been dealing with incidents of "lonely deaths" for some time now.

"There are growing incidents of lonely deaths in Japan. We call it "Kodokushi". Like the two sisters, these Japanese live alone and die alone without asking for help," Yuichi Hattori, Director and Chief Therapist at Sayama Psychological Institute, a private clinic in Sayama City, north of Tokyo said.

Anuradha (43) and Sonali Bahl (40) were found in a frail and dehydrated condition by social activists and police who had to break into their first-floor home in Noida, a satellite city on the outskirts of Delhi. The older of the two died soon after the rescue and the younger sister is undergoing medical care.

While psychologists in India attribute a combination of social apathy and life stresses to be possible causes behind the sisters' social reclusion, Hattori says people choose "Kodokushi" for different reasons.

"The core problems seem to be their inability to relate to people and their desire to stay away from people. But I can't say for certain, as I haven't checked the case of the two sisters by myself," says the researcher who specialises in treating dissociative identity disorder.

Author Michael Zielenziger, who has spent time in many countries as a foreign correspondent says India has issues of class and caste that are not really found in Japan.

"I do not think India and Japan share very many similarities, but I do believe 'social isolation' is a 'coping mechanism' used to keep away from distress," he said.

In his book "Shutting out the Sun", Zielenziger talks about more than one million young adults in Japan known as the "Hikikomori", who withdraw from societies for months or years
at a time, not going to class, not working, not even  leaving their homes, and often not even abandoning their rooms.

These recluses become wholly dependent on their mothers to feed them, writes Zielenziger.

Researcher Hattori describes 'Hikikomori' as the self- imposed confinement of people, mostly in their teens, twenties, and thirties. "They have reclusive life for years, even decades while avoiding interactions with people. They do not have psychotic symptoms."

While Hattori says there are no official explanations for the causes of Hikikomori and no official treatment, he has in his book "Hikikomori and Family Trauma," explained the
condition as caused by a child's failure to attach to its mother. "The child without maternal bonding grows an adult with distrust and fear of people, and inability to relate to other people," says Hattori.

Agencies