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Old 10-16-2012, 12:34 PM
 
Location: Connecticut
2,727 posts, read 5,500,677 times
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After having things happen to you, and feeling beaten down. Have you noticed whether you have no emotion, good or bad?

What I mean is - one of my mother's good friend's was just diagnosed with cancer and is going for chemo. My mother is devasted and was in tears. Me - I think it's terrible, but I can't show any emotion.

I've noticed over the past years, with all the bad stuff that has happened to me, I seem to have lost compassion. But only for humans - animals I can show emotion for (like seeing/hearing about an bused one). The news tells how a 15 y/o was stabbed to death and it doesn't bother me. Show an animal needing a home and it makes me sad.

Has this happened to anyone else?
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:21 PM
 
4,423 posts, read 8,216,168 times
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That's very honest of you to post about your lack of emotions toward others. I am like that too, but that's just the way I am. Nothing dramatic happened that made like that. I just don't care about anyone.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:39 PM
 
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There is a well-know phenomenon called "compassion fatigue" that comes up a lot with mental health and medical professionals, first responders, and other caretakers. It's different, and more specific, than the idea of "burnout," and many of us have gone to trainings on this, to be able to recognize it in ourselves and our collegaues. Think of it like muscle fatigue, but instead of your muscle getting tired, your compassion gets tired.
But people not working in these fields can experience compassion fatigue too--when they are continually encountering people with lots of traumas, needs, and bad things happening to them, especially when they are also going through their own traumas, needs, or bad things.

It doesn't make you a bad person, and it's a temporary state. You won't turn into some sort of sociopath who has no empathy for the rest of your life. We just get overloaded, and have only so much capacity for how much we can care and really feel it.

I tend to think it's a survival mechanism. We can only handle so much in the way of emotional demands, so we switch from feeling empathy to just thinking empathically. We can act sensitively toward a person, and think "that's really terrible what she's going through," but not really FEEL anything for her. And we can't get back any capacity to feel unless something lets up, or unless we let go of some of what we're carrying around.
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Old 10-16-2012, 02:43 PM
 
35,107 posts, read 42,149,571 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGirlNoMore View Post
After having things happen to you, and feeling beaten down. Have you noticed whether you have no emotion, good or bad?

What I mean is - one of my mother's good friend's was just diagnosed with cancer and is going for chemo. My mother is devasted and was in tears. Me - I think it's terrible, but I can't show any emotion.

I've noticed over the past years, with all the bad stuff that has happened to me, I seem to have lost compassion. But only for humans - animals I can show emotion for (like seeing/hearing about an bused one). The news tells how a 15 y/o was stabbed to death and it doesn't bother me. Show an animal needing a home and it makes me sad.

Has this happened to anyone else?

I don't have emotions over things that happen to people I don't know and with those I do know I can have emotions but sometimes I choose not to but I have never gotten emotionally to many humans even from a very young age. I don't get emotionally attached to too much and haven't for years.
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Old 10-16-2012, 03:02 PM
 
12,120 posts, read 29,306,804 times
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excellent idea about the CF, Tracy Sam. I am a psychiatric social worker and have been for 22 years and have been concerned about this too. of course, for the drama queens at my job, acting empathically is not enough, they want me to be feeling empathically too which i would rather not do

CSD I can also relate to the lack of emotion too

after losing both parents within the past 4 years and myself just being diagnosed with skin cancer, having surgery (biopsy results were negative, no cancer cells found but still, i need quarterly petscans for the next 24 months as well as lifetime visits to the dermatologist) and having little social supports, i myself can only ACT in my own best interests as opposed to FEEL anything about what is going on. you know sometimes i feel that works best too
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Old 10-16-2012, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Kansas
19,184 posts, read 15,737,395 times
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I am a person with a great deal of compassion for others but still, I have noticed that I am just sucked dry emotionally. I am less sympathetic because in the scope of things, many just need to grow up/get a life/deal with it! I think a lot of people are just emotionally exhausted due to all the bad news of ill health, job lose, etc.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:23 PM
 
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I remember the first time I actively thought, "I've only got so much to give. I'm reserving my emotions for a select few. I just don't have it to give to everybody."

It kind of shocked me when I thought it, but I think it's healthy for me at this time in life. I mean I can still tear up on a sad story and feel for others, but I've shut off emotionally from lots of people I know.

And yes, I can feel more easily for animals than humans. It is kind of weird.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:42 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 18,207,281 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CTGirlNoMore View Post
After having things happen to you, and feeling beaten down. Have you noticed whether you have no emotion, good or bad?

What I mean is - one of my mother's good friend's was just diagnosed with cancer and is going for chemo. My mother is devasted and was in tears. Me - I think it's terrible, but I can't show any emotion.

I've noticed over the past years, with all the bad stuff that has happened to me, I seem to have lost compassion. But only for humans - animals I can show emotion for (like seeing/hearing about an bused one). The news tells how a 15 y/o was stabbed to death and it doesn't bother me. Show an animal needing a home and it makes me sad.

Has this happened to anyone else?
I had my family ripped apart by betrayal of my husband. I was so angry and devistated and mourning and so many other things I just shut it all off. I seemed very calm. I could even talk about things quite rationally. But I felt nothing. When it built up too much, I would let enough feelings out, but then shut it off again.

I still can do that, even if eventually I got where I could 'feel'. But I still feel through a filter. I can go back into survival mode at will. When trauma comes into your life, if you have a survival instinct, some things get shut down. When distress happenes, you have a shut off switch. This is inborn in us, most of us at least, to some degree. It sounds like you were wired to be a survivor. Those who lack it entirely or its very weak are the ones that in the times when it was true survival, didn't make it. Most are somewhere inbetween.

If you are emotionall shut out, you need to heal. The exclusion of human distress is part of your protection system. If the cause is ongoing, then its serving a function. And it will never go away, if you sense that cliff coming up, since its developed and working.

That you react that way with animals is just how I am. I can shut out the stuff about people. I can look very analitically at awfulness in human life without any 'feelings' at all. (helpful in writing, doing the setup for a character, especially). Or I can let some of it in. But I don't think all. That part of me is blunted unless it hits a specific thing.

But animals? I have to be careful what I read about abuse to them, for instance, since it can send the mood crashing, and I uncondionally love my furry kids. I think its a way *of* feeling when life events have shut down that sense with people.

Just so there is no misunderstanding, the awful things that people do don't become acceptable if you don't feel much. They are still wrong. You don't feel like you should go out and do them or encourage someone else to. Its just that they are distant, like watching a tv show which is just on, with characters which never connected to you. They aren't quiite real. But that is your inheritance from millions of years of generations where being able to detach and runaway saved your life and its deeply hardwired inside us. Not good, not bad, but there. We don't usually have to run away or die now, but we have plenty of personal cruelty, and part of that reflex to run is to mentally let it go and put it away and the mind into a clear space so we can if we need to.
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Old 10-16-2012, 05:57 PM
 
Location: Cushing OK
14,545 posts, read 18,207,281 times
Reputation: 16829
Quote:
Originally Posted by AnywhereElse View Post
I am a person with a great deal of compassion for others but still, I have noticed that I am just sucked dry emotionally. I am less sympathetic because in the scope of things, many just need to grow up/get a life/deal with it! I think a lot of people are just emotionally exhausted due to all the bad news of ill health, job lose, etc.
The last ten years for me has been one of huge stress, and crap, but also recovery. What I find is I am a much harder person. If you've never had to dig your way out of something, its easy to feel sympathy. But if you had to and did, the every repeated words of, say, I'll never get away from this, are falling on deaf ears. There is no hint that the sufferer wants to or has taken action to. I eventuall gave up on a friend who was being played with by her ex. But she was playing right into his hand. It was so obvious, and we talked and talked, but she just didn't get it. She started drowning her sorrows in booze and it was done. I have come to realize that a lot of people's problems are due in part to themselves, and while they need help it has to come with the cavate that they help themselves too.

I was already a survivor of illness before this descended, but that time I just magically wiped it all out, shut the whole span of years out of memory. To this day I know things happened. I know how I lived and remember some days more specifically, but feel nothing of it. When this disastor hit, I shifted immediately. The advantage is that while not all decisions were the best, I can see that they're done and don't have to beat myself up over them now.

And I agree. Just like in times when the usual was suffering, people learned not to percieve it. You can't go through life being hit by the trauma. Ours isn't so graphic, and often comes via the communications web we live in, but its still there.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:56 AM
 
Location: Connecticut
2,727 posts, read 5,500,677 times
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Thanks everyone. I felt weird posting it, but I'm glad others understand.

I'd like to think I'm not a horrible person. I don't WISH bad upon people, but I just don't FEEL sympathy. I think it's because I've been hurt by too many people in my life, both strangers AND people close to me. I can't take out it on one person for another's action, but I tihnk it just made me not trust/care.

One reason I love animals so much - unconditional love. They don't care about whether you are smart, stupid, pretty, ugly, rich, poor, etc.
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