General Numbness / Don't feel sad?

Started by Ellis, November 28, 2018, 01:58:13 AM

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Does anyone else feel just generally quite numb/apathetic about certain things? I don't know if it's a CPTSD thing or a medication thing.

But for a while I've felt very little sympathy and emotion for things. Celebrities and famous individuals dying and everyone around me pays their respect but it's like I can't even comprehend the feeling of grief. To me it's just like reading the words 'they died' without feeling anything to it.

Then I have friends who hook up, break up, the usual romantic drama. Some friends who complain about average school. But I can't feel anything for it. I say "Sorry to hear that" to be polite but there's no genuine feelings.

The only things that really make me feel something is things that are well... traumatic. But everything else, just average life, feels numb.

Though I'm not actually too phased by it. To me it seems like a defense mechanism keeping me from breaking down and getting too emotional. It feels almost like a superpower even, the ability to face hardships with ease.

I'm just curious if anyone feels the same way.
And I hope this doesn't put me in a bad light. I'm not completely numb, and I do feel things and I care for people - otherwise I don't think I'd be here trying to help myself and others. And I care for all of you people here, and wish you all well and hope you're having a good day.


When it comes to numbness and emotional emptiness and/or confusion about it, I'm an experienced person in both. Yes, I'm pretty certain they grow, as you speculate, out of a defensive stance in order to avoid being hurt like we were before.

I learned early that certain emotions would set my abusers off to the point of fearing I was in danger lest I upset them. It was like I didn't have or wasn't allowed room to grow as I was meant to, and I literally felt shrunken and very numb about the whole deal.

Something I seemed to also learn well was to stifle and/or alter my true feelings. Sadness about this became a mainstay of my inner self. While I feared going there publicly, privately sadness remained high on my list of potential runaway feelings; but it was just too vulnerable to risk showing those emotions. That in turn made me feel less than human, that I couldn't fully be me. And in a cycle like that, numbness is a natural outcome as well. As an adult I'm better at admitting how huge a role sadness plays in trying to clear my emotional cobwebs.

Dissociation also seems to fit into the mix of being fearful of certain situations and definitely leads to an awkward fear of people in general. This has become a fairly prominent issue in my current therapy. I can see where I'm more able to identify these traits when they occur, but it's hard stuff to correct, as they're so ingrained in my being.

Your observations about this doesn't put you in any sort of bad light. Many people here have expressed the same reactions per numbness, dissociation, and especially emotionally. So what you discussed seems to be fairly common. All we can do is try our best to overcome their fierce hold on so much of our lives.


I remember when 9/11 was unfolding on TV, people locally were really shocked and dismayed, I didn't feel much of anything. I knew that wasn't normal but just didn't feel anything much at all.

Another thing I used to do a lot was replace fear with anger. I used to be in a lot of danger and would seek it out, but I would be fierce as an alternative to fear.

I read recently that anger directly suppresses the fear response.

Numb instead of emotional, angry instead of fearful. The opposite of what is appropriate.


Hi Ellis,
Yes, I do relate very much to the things you said here.  There are things where I don't feel emotions, and feel numb - dissociated perhaps.  There are other things where I 'feel too much' - it depends what it is and the triggers etc.

I also relate to what Rainagain said - about remembering when 9/11 happened, and how I didn't feel anything at the time - I was completely detached and unaffected - but several months later, when I was in a group of people who were talking about the events - then I was completely flooded with emotions that felt very out of control - it was like I had blocked off the emotional contact for so long, but eventually I 'cracked' and they came through.

I've also done this when watching the film 'Titanic' - which I watched with a then boyfriend that I didn't know that well, and I managed to get through the entire film 'without showing any emotion' but later that night I broke down in floods of uncontrollable tears. 

Thank you for writing about your experiences of this, and I relate to what Woodsgnome said about maybe it being a defensive stance in order to avoid being hurt like we were before. 

Hope  :)


Yes I can identify with the feeling.  With me, when I started to break out of that mold, it was not pleasant because I realized most of my emotions were very negative and disturbing. 

When I first began therapy, my therapist asked me how I was feeling and when I gave her my usual O.K. she probed further.   I couldn't tell her anything about my past week and the emotions I felt.  She pulled out a chart filled with hundreds of emotions and asked me to see if any of them resonated.   When I forced to think about them, the only ones that I could identify with were the negative ones.  During the exercise, I burst into tears and was overwhelmed by them.  I don't know if the medication may play a part, but for me numbness and apathy is a signal I'm trying to run from very unpleasant feelings. 

In my reading on trauma and listening to counselors and youtube, many seem to be of the belief that reconnecting with your emotions is at the core of recovery from trauma.  Dissociation protects us from the negative emotions, but it also locks us away from all the good emotions that we need to feel to have a great life.  In my daily life, I am starting to try not to run from negative emotions and feel them when I need to.  I try to identify them and work through them instead of stuffing them down inside.