Emotional Theft ,” Tou Gan” : An emerging new trend


“Tou gan” is a Chinese term which means “Emotional Theft “it is a new trend emerging among the Chinese youth. This is effecting their personal relationship and mental peace. Chinese society is a traditional society where lot of importance is given to society and harmony. But due to rapid modernization and urbanization lot of changes have occurred in their societal dynamics. Traditional rigidness and rapid modernization has confused the youth .

The work pressure and competition has increased immensely. Thus bringing about” emotional theft” or ” tou gan” the Chinese youth has started doing small rebellious acts to release stress

They have started living a secretive lifestyle based on self-love and resistance. The youth is bonded by traditional, cultural and emotional boundaries and the most important is” what others think “. He is afraid of disrupting the delicate balance of social interaction. But at the same time wants to purse their individual desires. So to protect their emotional boundaries they have taken to “emotional theft”.

The youth today now wants to have control over their own life and desires. They are not afraid of disrupting the social order. In fact enjoying it, in other words they are “derailing” their lives on purpose by living in secrecy.

The small rebellious acts like living in a separate room, hiding their earnings from parents, having a social media profile visible only to them, eating unhealthy food these are to name few, gives them the feeling of freedom and privacy.

According to Chinese laws a person with visible tattoos cannot take medical exams required for civil services exams, but still he is getting himself tattooed for the feeling of freedom and joy.


  • Chinese traditional society there norms and values
  • Rapid modernization and urbanization
  • High work pressure
  • Social environment


  • Cultural openness and support
  • Mutual respect for each other
  • Emotional freedom to the youth

Therefore “emotional theft” is a way to show resistance towards social and cultural norms. The youth is rebelling against the society by doing small things which gives them satisfaction and a sense of freedom.

“Emotional theft” is not only confined to Chinese youth it is rapidly spreading in other countries youth too.


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