Apathy

Apathy
Anxiety Arousal Flow (psychology) Overlearning Relaxation (psychology) Boredom Apathy Worry
Mental state in terms of challenge level and skill level, according to Csikszentmihalyi.[1] (Click on a fragment of the image to go to the appropriate article)

Apathy (also called impassivity or perfunctoriness) is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern, excitement, motivation and passion. An apathetic individual has an absence of interest in or concern about emotional, social, spiritual, philosophical or physical life.

They may lack a sense of purpose or meaning in their life. He or she may also exhibit insensibility or sluggishness. The opposite of apathy is flow.[1] In positive psychology, apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge. It may also be a result of perceiving no challenge at all (e.g. the challenge is irrelevant to them, or conversely, they have learned helplessness). In light of the insurmountable certainty of universal doom, apathy is the default mode of existential nihilism, and, as such, is not considered to be a pathological state by those who experience it. (See the works of Arthur Schopenhauer).

Contents

Etymology

Although the word apathy is derived from the Greek ἀπάθεια (apatheia),[2] it is important not to confuse the two terms. Also meaning "absence of passion," "apathy" or "insensibility" in Greek, the term apatheia was used by the Stoics to signify a (desirable) state of indifference towards events and things which lie outside one's control (that is, according to their philosophy, all things exterior, one being only responsible for his representations and judgments).[3] In contrast to apathy, apatheia is considered a virtue, especially in Orthodox monasticism.[citation needed] In the Philokalia the word dispassion is used for apatheia, so as not to confuse it with apathy.[citation needed]

History and other views

Christians have historically condemned apathy as a deficiency of love and devotion to God and 'his works'; this interpretation of apathy is also referred to as Sloth and is listed among the Seven Deadly Sins. Clemens Alexandrinus used the term to draw to Christianity philosophers who aspired after virtue.[1] Macaulay[who?] referred to "The apathy of despair." Prescott[who?] described "A certain apathy or sluggishness in his nature which led him . . . to leave events to take their own course."

The modern concept of apathy became more well known after World War I, when it was called "shell shock." Soldiers who lived in the trenches amidst the bombing and machine gun fire, and who saw the battlefields strewn with dead and maimed comrades, developed a sense of disconnected numbness and indifference to normal social interaction.

In 1950, US novelist John Dos Passos wrote: "Apathy is one of the characteristic responses of any living organism when it is subjected to stimuli too intense or too complicated to cope with. The cure for apathy is comprehension." US educational philosopher Robert Maynard Hutchins summarized the concerns about political indifference when he claimed that the "death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."

Douglas Hofstadter suggests that, recognizing that the human brain's "ego" is nothing but a construct, no emotion is necessary. Since the realization of the future of an expanding universe, apathy is the only intelligent response. It is in contrast to the contented feeling of self-satisfaction of complacency, driven by the illusion of the "ego".

There may be other things contributing to a person's apathy. Activist Dave Meslin argues that people often care, and that apathy is often the result of social systems actively obstructing engagement and involvement. He describes various obstacles that keep people from knowing how or why they might get involved in something. Meslin focuses on design choices that unintentionally or intentionally exclude people. These include: capitalistic media systems that have no provisions for ideas that are not immediately (monetarily) profitable, government and political media (e.g. notices) that make it difficult for potentially interested individuals to find relevant information, and media portrayals of heroes as "chosen" by outside forces rather than self motivated. He moves that we redefine social apathy to think of it, not as a population that is stupid or lazy, but as result of poorly designed systems that fail to invite others to participate.[4][5]

Medical aspects

Relationship with depression

Mental health journalist and author John McManamy argues that although psychiatrists do not explicitly deal with the condition of apathy, it is a psychological problem for some depressed people, in which they get a sense that "nothing matters", the "lack of will to go on and the inability to care about the consequences".[6] He describes depressed people who "...cannot seem to make [themselves] do anything," who "can't complete anything," and who do not "feel any excitement about seeing loved ones."[6] He acknowledges that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders does not discuss apathy.

In a Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences article from 1991, Robert Marin, MD, claimed that apathy occurs due to brain damage or neuropsychiatric illnesses such as Alzheimer’s, dementia, Parkinson's, or Huntington’s, or else an event such as a stroke. Marin argues that apathy should be regarded as a syndrome or illness.[6]

A review article by Robert van Reekum, MD, et al. from the University of Toronto in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry (2005) claimed that "depression and apathy were a package deal" in some populations which may help illustrate what people mean when they say that "The opposite of love is not hate, it is apathy."

Other medical

Often, apathy has been felt after witnessing horrific acts, such as the killing or maiming of people during a war. It is also known to be associated with many conditions, some of which are: CADASIL syndrome, depression, Alzheimer's disease, Chagas' disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, dementia, Korsakoff's syndrome, excessive vitamin D; hypothyroidism; hyperthyroidism; general fatigue; Huntington's disease; Pick's disease; progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP); schizophrenia; schizoid personality disorder; bipolar disorder, and others. Some medications and the heavy use of drugs such as heroin may bring apathy as a side effect.[citation needed]

References

  1. ^ a b Csikszentmihalyi, M., Finding Flow, 1997.
  2. ^ Apatheia, Henry George Liddell, Robert Scott, A Greek-English Lexicon, at Perseus.
  3. ^ William Fleming (1857). The vocabulary of philosophy, mental, moral, and metaphysical. p.&34. Reprinted by Kessinger Publishing as paperback (2006; ISBN 978-1428633247) and in hardcover (2007; ISBN 978-0548123713).
  4. ^ Ted.com, lecture, "The antidote to apathy"
  5. ^ Ted.com, autobiographical page, "Dave Meslin"
  6. ^ a b c John McManamy. "Apathy Matters - Apathy and Depression: Psychiatry may not care about apathy, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't".

External links


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Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Apathy — Ap a*thy, n.; pl. {Apathies}. [L. apathia, Gr. ?; a priv. + ?, fr. ?, ?, to suffer: cf. F. apathie. See {Pathos}.] Want of feeling; privation of passion, emotion, or excitement; dispassion; applied either to the body or the mind. As applied to… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Apathy — ist der Name folgender Personen: Peter Apathy (* 1948), österreichischer Jurist und Hochschullehrer Apathy (Rapper) (* 1979), US amerikanischer Rapper Diese Seite ist eine Begriffsklärung zur Unterscheidung mehrerer mit demse …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • apathy — index disinterest (lack of interest), indifference, inertia, languor, laxity, sloth Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burto …   Law dictionary

  • apathy — (n.) c.1600, freedom from suffering, from Fr. apathie (16c.), from L. apathia, from Gk. apatheia freedom from suffering, impassability, want of sensation, from apathes without feeling, without suffering or having suffered, from a without (see A… …   Etymology dictionary

  • apathy — phlegm, stolidity, impassivity, impassiveness, stoicism (see under IMPASSIVE) Analogous words: inertness, inactivity, passiveness, supineness (see corresponding adjectives at INACTIVE): indifference, unconcern, aloofness, detachment (see… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • apathy — [n] uncaring attitude, lack of interest aloofness, coldness, coolness, detachment, disinterest, dispassion, disregard, dullness, emotionlessness, halfheartedness, heedlessness, indifference, insensibility, insensitivity, insouciance, lassitude,… …   New thesaurus

  • apathy — ► NOUN ▪ lack of interest or enthusiasm. ORIGIN Greek apatheia, from apath s without feeling …   English terms dictionary

  • apathy — [ap′ə thē] n. pl. apathies [Fr apathie < L apathia < Gr apatheia < a , without + pathos, emotion: see PATHOS] 1. lack of emotion 2. lack of interest; listless condition; unconcern; indifference …   English World dictionary

  • apathy — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ general, widespread ▪ political, public, voter VERB + APATHY ▪ suffer from ▪ …   Collocations dictionary

  • apathy — n. 1) to feel; show apathy towards 2) to cast off, shed, throw off one s apathy 3) apathy towards * * * [ æpəθɪ] shed show apathy towards throw off one s apathy to cast off to feel apathy towards …   Combinatory dictionary


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