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The Path To Apathy: How to detect Empathy Deficit Disorder

Life isn’t all about summers at the beach, parties until the wee hours, or making a fool of yourself in front of friends. No, it’s more of the challenges you face; the struggle on completing your final thesis, first heartbreak, conflicts with family and friends, etc.

It’s the essence of these events that molds you to be the person you are now. From how you cope and adjusted on puberty to adulthood, balancing social life and work deadlines. These are the events you should appreciate.

We’re all human, imperfectly unique. Everyone needs a shoulder to cry on, a hug or pat on the back. Anything, just anything to make us feel that we’re not alone.

So, stop for a minute and ask yourself about the kinds of people you WANT to be surrounded with during an unfortunate event – the reasons may be a loved one who died or as trivial as being grounded.

Would you rather be with the ones who say, “In my opinion, you should get over it, there’s more to life than sulking.” Or those that chose to share the pain you feel, to let you know that “Hey, I’m here to share a bucket of chocolate chip ice cream while we cry our eyes out”?

A person who has a lack of empathy would tell you to party and forget, to distract yourself instead of mourning. The kinds of people who doesn’t understand that their remarks may be insensitive to the receiver.

About Empathy Deficit Disorder

Empathy Deficit Disorder may sound new to your ears, but it has been revolving around of society without us realizing it. In fact, it’s not such a surprise if you have it too! EDD is when you’re unable to detach yourself from what you believe in. Thus, you have some difficulty understanding other people’s reaction/emotion in a situation.

Not sure if you have it? Okay, imagine a scene wherein a beggar sits on a corner outside of a grocery store at a winter day. For the whole day he must sit on a cold cemented floor wearing light clothes, begging passersby to give him a penny or two for food.

A scene we have seen many times, but what do we do? Yes, there may be some good Samaritan who’s willing to give a dollar but most of us would walk by. This is the perfect example of what Empathy Deficit Disorder is. Maybe the reason why we ignore the beggar is because “Ah, he should find a job and earn on his own”. Aren’t we being insensitive? What if he’s trying but no ones’ accepting him? Or maybe, he’s too crippled to work?

What are the causes of EDD?

The environment you live in influences you on how to act and behave. There are countries who doesn’t encourage the citizens to give money to beggars (there’s a law!). Yeah, see how society MAKES you react that way? In turn, Empathy Deficit Disorder develops is more pronounced.

As most people say, you are defined by the crowd you surround yourself. If you’re with people who insults others, sooner or later you will too. Family is an important group, the parents mold your manners and perspective on certain kinds of situations. If the family doesn’t show you or let you express what you feel, you’ll find difficulty in interacting with others. Then, develop EDD.

How to know if you or someone you know has Empathy Deficit Disorder? Look for these clues:

  • Empathy, not present
  • the individual doesn’t feel any compassion or pity to current issues that is affecting other people.
  • Inability to understand how others feel
  • there are times when you yearn of being understood, to sit down and talk about your worries and dreams. A perfect example for this is when a person or a group bullies an individual who can’t fight back. Or if he does, he’ll get bullied more. There are times when you as a person know WHEN to stop, if you see it’s too much.
  • Rejects confrontation, concerning emotions
  • withdrawal, it’s when you reject the reality or divert your attention to something else. Just so you don’t have to suffer on confronting issues.
  • Difficulty creating a relationship with people (family & friends)
  • people who can’t understand what other people feel have conflict on their relationships. Since you can’t comprehend why a certain individual reacts in a certain way in a situation.
  • Confusion on how to express ones’ emotions
  • when an event occurs such as your birthday coming or your best friend’s wedding day, normally most reactions should be joyful or any positive emotion. People who have EDD can’t because they don’t know how.

What can we do about it? Is it possible to reduce or eliminate EDD completely? Of course! It takes time, depends on how grave a situation you are in. You need to condition yourself to feel or act a certain way.

  • Be openminded

  • Think before speaking

  • Try to see a situation in a different perspective

  • Educate is the road to awareness

Empathy vs. Apathy: What’s the difference?

Empathy is the awareness on the importance of emotional intelligence. It’s when you tell someone, “I understand what you’re going through, I’ve been there. Opening up is better than keeping it all to yourself”.

Meanwhile, Apathy is the “complete opposite” of Empathy. An apathetic individual have zero interest in life which may include (and not limited to); not feeling guilty about incomplete school works or failing a class, bullying people, and no remorse on the death of a close friend/family.

As we mentioned before, Empathy Deficit Disorder is when a person doesn’t show any remorse or can’t seem to understand what other people feel in a situation. “Your cat died? Get over it, get a new one!” a phrase that best describes a person with EDD. This is to say that Apathy is present but how does it affect an individual and its’ relationship with people?

When you possess extreme apathy, it means you don’t care about the consequences of your actions. In turn, it affects your motivation and enthusiasm to do well on a certain task.

Meanwhile, when it comes to communication you will find some difficulty expressing yourself with other people. It means, you don’t have a high regard about people’s opinion on your actions. Perfect example is when you feel numb, you don’t feel any affection towards your parents or siblings. This has been shown to be correlated with depression and may be influenced by exposure to the environment.

What does psychologists have to say?

Empathy Deficit Disorder is more likely to be influenced by society. Have you ever heard of Bystander Effect? It’s when strangers show no compassion even during emergencies. When a car crash occurs, people may ogle for a minute or two and then go back to their “normal routine”.

It’s been found that too much freedom of speech creates a clash on an individual’s morality. EDD is also influenced by bias, a study found that white people were more likely to understand the agony of a fellow white person than a black individual.

Did you know? Online bullying is a perfect example of EDD. It’s so easy for people to post mean comments on a person’s social networking sites such as Twitter and Instagram. From here, people huddle together to make one person feel as if the world is against them. These online bullies don’t stop for a minute and think “What if I was in his/her situation, what would I feel?”.

With that in mind, do you have Empathy Deficit Disorder? Or maybe someone you know has it? What do you plan to do about it?

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