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Medical Can a person choose to not feel emotions or empathy?

  1. Jul 3, 2016 #1
    With training can you shut down your emotions and empathy?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 3, 2016 #2
    Personally I doubt it since those things arise not from concious thought, but from more primitive 'instincts'.
    You could of course train yourself to react to these instincts in different ways, but I doubt that they could be eliminated.
    Just as you can't change your heartbeat rate at will.
     
  4. Jul 3, 2016 #3

    Vanadium 50

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    Even Mr. Spock couldn't do this. And he has the twin advantages of being alien and fictional.
     
  5. Jul 3, 2016 #4
    Of course you can - just like you can train to remove anger, sadness or anxiety such as in cognitive behavioural therapy. Emotions arise from thoughts and you have a lot of (but not total) control over your thoughts.
     
  6. Jul 3, 2016 #5
    Isn't that more to do though with managing anger and etc in an appropriate manner, as compared with eliminating the emotion altogether?
    I am aware that there are medications for anxiety and so on, but they can be effective (partially anyway), for one person while not for another.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2016
  7. Jul 4, 2016 #6

    Fervent Freyja

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    What emotion are you referring to?
     
  8. Jul 4, 2016 #7
    Mostly empathy, fear, embarrassment, remorse and love
     
  9. Jul 4, 2016 #8

    Pythagorean

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    Yes, emotional management doesn't necessarily get rid of emotions. For some situations, regulation can be trained so well that it's automatic and the it's close to elimination. But the real trick is being able to identify when you're triggered and choose to manage it. Most people don't realize that their triggered while they're triggered.
     
  10. Jul 5, 2016 #9

    Fervent Freyja

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    You can work on the fear and embarrassment by occasionally doing/saying things that others would find embarrassing (with your finger in the air). Humiliation/embarrassment essentially stems from allowing what others think to affect you. Do you really believe that others have a right to tell you how to feel and act, or what to believe? That's what happens when you try to follow the thousands of social rules we learn about from birth- most fear, anxiety, and embarrassment stems from those rules. Revoke enough permission and follow only those that allow you to have a job and not be in conflict with everybody all the time. It takes time though. I remember how scary it had been the first time I decided to wear pants to church... Now, nobody thinks I'm so cute and I have a severe aversion to sitting pretty on a pew with my legs crossed, hands in my lap, and head straight. The last time I attended a study session, I got into it with my mothers preacher (a mechanical engineer with a degree in physics). I do not like being told how I should behave or think! There is this group of women at my daughters ballet school that are starting to get on my nerves, badly. They think that although I pay for the schools services, not their company, that I should follow their little unwritten rules and be more like them. I'm debating what strategy I should use to get them to leave me alone. I've thought about flirting with their husbands, but not all of them make an appearance. Games, I do not have time for. I'm not dropping a thousand dollars on one purse every fashion season from multiple designers.

    Remorse usually occurs when you do something wrong. What did you do so terrible? Empathy is usually a reaction to stimulus. Maybe you should try to avoid more situations if you are spending most of your time having to be so empathetic- everyone needs a break. Also, if you stop offering to be so helpful, then it won't take from you emotionally (let them ask for your help). And if someone doesn't want you because of that, then maybe they aren't being a good friend. Friendships don't work out well when one ends up always giving, while the other receives. See Aristotles advice on friendship, some good stuff!

    Love isn't supposed to always feel good. That's the reason it works, it hurts too. Animals usually lose the will to live when they find 'peace'.
     
  11. Jul 5, 2016 #10

    Drakkith

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    Is this just curiosity, or do you really want to shut down your emotions?
     
  12. Jul 5, 2016 #11

    Drakkith

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    Might I suggest simply ignoring them? I seriously doubt this will improve your situation in the slightest.

    I'd like a reference for this. And a definition of "peace" in this context. My first thought goes to the millions of pets around the world who have little-to-no worries and yet still live to be fat and happy for many years.
     
  13. Jul 6, 2016 #12

    Fervent Freyja

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    The problem is that I normally do ignore them. The are trying to haze me, if you think that men are vicious... Because I handed out candy after one class, they made a fuss and by the next class a sign was posted that said all treats must have ingredients reviewed from an instructor before giving them out! Apparently, one child is 'allergic' to red dye # 40. As if the nail polish they handed out once wasn't toxic too! All homemade foods are BANNED, it must be prepackaged. Anyway, it's just that many instances like this that add up over time. The nit-picking. I have to put up with it to a degree for the next decade, lest they omit inviting my daughter to future birthday parties and sleepovers (essentially interaction with friends).

    I cannot reference this, you might have to remove it! "Peace", as in wanting nothing, not even food. Have you never been clawed ruthlessly by a hungry cat when going to feed it an hour late? My point was that we should never expect all emotions in life to feel good. For example, hunger hurts, eating feels good. Without experiencing hunger, eating could never really feel good- how could you define it was even good without being able to compare it to something else, like hunger? Both negative and positive emotions give us drive. I embrace both extremes. I advise the OP not to be afraid of them and try to rid of them so quickly- he can utilize those feelings and direct them towards something that helps him later. Let him be angry that the beliefs of others are what is making him feel embarrassed and fearful. There is no shame in being human, but there is when you aren't taking up for yourself.
     
  14. Jul 6, 2016 #13

    Drakkith

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    I have not. My cats never clawed me unless I had done something to them to deserve it or it was by accident.

    I don't see why it wouldn't still feel good, but I could see how you wouldn't appreciate it nearly as much if you've never gone hungry.
     
  15. Sep 18, 2016 #14
    Try studying philosophy, Albert Kamus got to eliminate his empathy to his mother.
     
  16. Sep 18, 2016 #15
    It's Camus with a C, and my mom actually turned me onto his book "The stranger" in my senior year in high school and it changed my life. To this day I still consider myself largely an existentialist.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Camus
     
  17. Sep 19, 2016 #16
    To suppress empathy is not a good thing. I suppose it's possible with some individuals, but lack of empathy is a condition found in many criminals, particularly serial killers. If you really want to suppress your empathy and capacity to form emotional bonds with others, you might consider this:

    https://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/medicine/laureates/1949/moniz-article.html

    I think they still do them in Sweden. People who have had this procedure are docile, have a flat affect (no significant emotions) and are not social, but not dangerous either.

    I'm not really suggesting this and I know our emotional bonds can cause suffering when they're broken, but most people can recover, with or without help.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
  18. Sep 19, 2016 #17
    Guys i was just curious, i found something on psychopaths and i found that they can choose to feel empathy if they want and i was wondering if the opposite was possible
     
  19. Sep 19, 2016 #18
    Do you mean to selectively turn empathy off? Well I think we have an example with war. In combat you have to dehumanize the "enemy". A total stranger who could possibly be a friend under different circumstances becomes someone who is to be immediately hated and feared at first contact, and therefore killed if possible. There many stories of soldiers who completely broke down after finding pictures of apparent family members on the body of a man they just killed. Maybe that's not exactly what you're asking about. With criminals, there are examples where they can feel genuine affection for some people and kill others without a thought. So yes, it's possible.
     
  20. Sep 19, 2016 #19
    What if you actualy have bounds with someone, like a close friend, can you kill him without remorse or without feeling anything just because you choose to not feel anything?
     
  21. Sep 19, 2016 #20
    That would be a psychopath and they certainly exist.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2016
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