Apathy
Overview
 
Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern
Worry
Worry is thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in whichmental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. As an emotion it is experienced as anxiety or concern about a real or imagined issue, usually personal issues such as health or finances or broader ones such as...

, excitement
Psychomotor agitation
Psychomotor agitation is a series of unintentional and purposeless motions that stem from mental tension and anxiety of an individual. This includes pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, pulling off clothing and putting it back on and other similar actions...

, motivation
Motivation
Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...

 and passion
Passion (emotion)
Passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something....

. 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
Flow (psychology)
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of...

. In positive psychology
Positive psychology
Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology whose purpose was summed up in 1998 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "We believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise, which achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving in...

, apathy is described as a result of the individual feeling they do not possess the level of skill required to confront a challenge.
Quotations

I have a very strong feeling that the opposite of love is not hate — it's apathy. It's not giving a damn.

Leo Buscaglia

Science may have found a cure for most evils; but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all — the apathy of human beings.

Helen Keller

Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinion at all.

Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, Aphorisms (1764-99)

Once you have glimpsed the world as it might be, as it ought to be, as it's going to be (however that vision appears to you), it is impossible to live compliant and complacent anymore in the world as it is.

Victoria Safford in "The Small Work in the Great Work" in The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear (2004) by Paul Rogat Loeb|Paul Rogat Loeb

Indifference, if let alone, will produce obduracy; and obduracy, if let alone, will produce torment.

Henry Melvill, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 344.

Bad officials are elected by good citizens who do not vote.

W:George Jean Nathan|George Jean Nathan

There are few signs in a soul's state more alarming than that of religious indifference, that is, the spirit of thinking all religions equally true— the real meaning of which is, that all religions are equally false.

Frederick William Robertson, reported in Josiah Hotchkiss Gilbert, Dictionary of Burning Words of Brilliant Writers (1895), p. 344.

The worst sin towards our fellow creatures is not to hate them, but to be indifferent to them: that's the essence of inhumanity.

George Bernard Shaw, The Devil's Disciple (1897)

He who has never hoped can never despair.

George Bernard Shaw, Caesar and Cleopatra (1906)

He who does not punish evil commands it to be done.

Leonardo da Vinci

Encyclopedia
Apathy is a state of indifference, or the suppression of emotions such as concern
Worry
Worry is thoughts, images and emotions of a negative nature in whichmental attempts are made to avoid anticipated potential threats. As an emotion it is experienced as anxiety or concern about a real or imagined issue, usually personal issues such as health or finances or broader ones such as...

, excitement
Psychomotor agitation
Psychomotor agitation is a series of unintentional and purposeless motions that stem from mental tension and anxiety of an individual. This includes pacing around a room, wringing one's hands, pulling off clothing and putting it back on and other similar actions...

, motivation
Motivation
Motivation is the driving force by which humans achieve their goals. Motivation is said to be intrinsic or extrinsic. The term is generally used for humans but it can also be used to describe the causes for animal behavior as well. This article refers to human motivation...

 and passion
Passion (emotion)
Passion is a term applied to a very strong feeling about a person or thing. Passion is an intense emotion compelling feeling, enthusiasm, or desire for something....

. 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
Flow (psychology)
Flow is the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity. Proposed by Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, the positive psychology concept has been widely referenced across a variety of...

. In positive psychology
Positive psychology
Positive psychology is a recent branch of psychology whose purpose was summed up in 1998 by Martin Seligman and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi: "We believe that a psychology of positive human functioning will arise, which achieves a scientific understanding and effective interventions to build thriving in...

, 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
Learned helplessness
Learned helplessness, as a technical term in animal psychology and related human psychology, means a condition of a human person or an animal in which it has learned to behave helplessly, even when the opportunity is restored for it to help itself by avoiding an unpleasant or harmful circumstance...

).
In light of the insurmountable certainty of universal doom, apathy is the default mode of existential nihilism
Nihilism
Nihilism is the philosophical doctrine suggesting the negation of one or more putatively meaningful aspects of life. Most commonly, nihilism is presented in the form of existential nihilism which argues that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value...

, and, as such, is not considered to be a pathological state by those who experience it. (See the works of Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer
Arthur Schopenhauer was a German philosopher known for his pessimism and philosophical clarity. At age 25, he published his doctoral dissertation, On the Fourfold Root of the Principle of Sufficient Reason, which examined the four separate manifestations of reason in the phenomenal...

).

Etymology

Although the word apathy is derived from the Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

  (apatheia
Apatheia
Apatheia in Stoic philosophy refers to a state of mind where one is free from emotional disturbance. This might be translated as equanimity or indifference...

), 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). In contrast to apathy, apatheia is considered a virtue
Virtue
Virtue is moral excellence. A virtue is a positive trait or quality subjectively deemed to be morally excellent and thus is valued as a foundation of principle and good moral being....

, especially in Orthodox monasticism. In the Philokalia
Philokalia
The Philokalia is a collection of texts written between the 4th and 15th centuries by spiritual masters of the Eastern Orthodox hesychast tradition. They were originally written for the guidance and instruction of monks in "the practise of the contemplative life". The collection was compiled in...

 the word dispassion is used for apatheia, so as not to confuse it with apathy.

History and other views

Christians have historically condemned apathy as a deficiency of love and devotion to God
God
God is the English name given to a singular being in theistic and deistic religions who is either the sole deity in monotheism, or a single deity in polytheism....

 and 'his works'; this interpretation of apathy is also referred to as Sloth
Sloth (deadly sin)
In the Christian moral tradition, sloth is one of the seven capital sins, often called the seven deadly sins; these sins are called sins because they supposedly destroy the charity in a person's heart and thus may lead to eternal death.-Definition:Sloth is defined as spiritual or emotional...

 and is listed among the Seven Deadly Sins
Seven deadly sins
The 7 Deadly Sins, also known as the Capital Vices or Cardinal Sins, is a classification of objectionable vices that have been used since early Christian times to educate and instruct followers concerning fallen humanity's tendency to sin...

. Clemens Alexandrinus used the term to draw to Christianity philosophers who aspired after virtue. Macaulay referred to "The apathy of despair." Prescott 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
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

, when it was called "shell shock
Shell Shock
Shell Shock, also known as 82nd Marines Attack was a 1964 film by B-movie director John Hayes. The film takes place in Italy during World War II, and tells the story of a sergeant with his group of soldiers....

." 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
John Dos Passos
John Roderigo Dos Passos was an American novelist and artist.-Early life:Born in Chicago, Illinois, Dos Passos was the illegitimate son of John Randolph Dos Passos , a distinguished lawyer of Madeiran Portuguese descent, and Lucy Addison Sprigg Madison of Petersburg, Virginia. The elder 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
Understanding
Understanding is a psychological process related to an abstract or physical object, such as a person, situation, or message whereby one is able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with that object....

." 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
Assassination
To carry out an assassination is "to murder by a sudden and/or secret attack, often for political reasons." Alternatively, assassination may be defined as "the act of deliberately killing someone, especially a public figure, usually for hire or for political reasons."An assassination may be...

 from ambush. It will be a slow extinction
Extinction
In biology and ecology, extinction is the end of an organism or of a group of organisms , normally a species. The moment of extinction is generally considered to be the death of the last individual of the species, although the capacity to breed and recover may have been lost before this point...

 from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."

Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Hofstadter
Douglas Richard Hofstadter is an American academic whose research focuses on consciousness, analogy-making, artistic creation, literary translation, and discovery in mathematics and physics...

 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
Future of an expanding universe
Observations suggest that the expansion of the universe will continue forever. If so, the universe will cool as it expands, eventually becoming too cold to sustain life. For this reason, this future scenario is popularly called the Big Freeze....

, apathy is the only intelligent response. It is in contrast to the contented
Contentment
"Contentment" seems realistically defined as "enjoyment of whatever may be desired". That definition is realistic because the more contented an individual or community becomes the less extreme so more acceptable their desires will be...

 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
Hero
A hero , in Greek mythology and folklore, was originally a demigod, their cult being one of the most distinctive features of ancient Greek religion...

 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.

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
Clinical depression
Major depressive disorder is a mental disorder characterized by an all-encompassing low mood accompanied by low self-esteem, and by loss of interest or pleasure in normally enjoyable activities...

 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". 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." He acknowledges that the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is published by the American Psychiatric Association and provides a common language and standard criteria for the classification 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.

A review article by Robert van Reekum, MD, et al. from the University of Toronto
University of Toronto
The University of Toronto is a public research university in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, situated on the grounds that surround Queen's Park. It was founded by royal charter in 1827 as King's College, the first institution of higher learning in Upper Canada...

 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
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

. It is also known to be associated with many conditions, some of which are: CADASIL syndrome, depression, Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease
Alzheimer's disease also known in medical literature as Alzheimer disease is the most common form of dementia. There is no cure for the disease, which worsens as it progresses, and eventually leads to death...

, Chagas' disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease
Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease or CJD is a degenerative neurological disorder that is incurable and invariably fatal. CJD is at times called a human form of mad cow disease, given that bovine spongiform encephalopathy is believed to be the cause of variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease in humans.CJD...

, dementia
Dementia
Dementia is a serious loss of cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging...

, Korsakoff's syndrome
Korsakoff's syndrome
Korsakoff's syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by the lack of thiamine in the brain. Its onset is linked to chronic alcohol abuse and/or severe malnutrition...

, excessive vitamin D
Hypervitaminosis D
Hypervitaminosis D is a state of vitamin D toxicity.The recommended daily allowance is 400 IU per day. Overdose has been observed at 1925 µg/d...

; hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone.Iodine deficiency is the most common cause of hypothyroidism worldwide but it can be caused by other causes such as several conditions of the thyroid gland or, less commonly, the pituitary gland or...

; hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism
Hyperthyroidism is the term for overactive tissue within the thyroid gland causing an overproduction of thyroid hormones . Hyperthyroidism is thus a cause of thyrotoxicosis, the clinical condition of increased thyroid hormones in the blood. Hyperthyroidism and thyrotoxicosis are not synonymous...

; general fatigue; Huntington's disease
Huntington's disease
Huntington's disease, chorea, or disorder , is a neurodegenerative genetic disorder that affects muscle coordination and leads to cognitive decline and dementia. It typically becomes noticeable in middle age. HD is the most common genetic cause of abnormal involuntary writhing movements called chorea...

; Pick's disease
Pick's disease
Pick's disease, is a rare neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive destruction of nerve cells in the brain. Symptoms include loss of speech , and dementia. While some of the symptoms can initially be alleviated, the disease progresses and patients often die within two to ten years...

; progressive supranuclear palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy
Progressive supranuclear palsy is a degenerative disease involving the gradual deterioration and death of specific areas of the brain....

 (PSP); schizophrenia
Schizophrenia
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by a disintegration of thought processes and of emotional responsiveness. It most commonly manifests itself as auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking, and it is accompanied by significant social...

; schizoid personality disorder
Schizoid personality disorder
Schizoid personality disorder is a personality disorder characterized by a lack of interest in social relationships, a tendency towards a solitary lifestyle, secretiveness, emotional coldness, and sometimes apathy, with a simultaneous rich, elaborate, and exclusively internal fantasy world...

; bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder
Bipolar disorder or bipolar affective disorder, historically known as manic–depressive disorder, is a psychiatric diagnosis that describes a category of mood disorders defined by the presence of one or more episodes of abnormally elevated energy levels, cognition, and mood with or without one or...

, and others. Some medications and the heavy use of drugs such as heroin may bring apathy as a side effect.

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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