An apathetic person: personality traits, advice from psychologists

What is apathy? It is a symptom that denotes indifference, reluctance to do something, detachment in relation to current events. Reality is perceived neither positively nor negatively, emotions are not externally manifested. Accordingly, apathetic is when a person does not outwardly experience any emotions or shows them very weakly.

Apathetic man

Apathy towards everything is a sign of illness or a normal state during times of stress.


What is an apathetic person? What is meant here is that he has a tendency towards indifference. Before you is a lethargic, impassive person, he is not at all interested in what is happening around him. Such a person tends to demonstrate complete indifference to everything, and it does not matter whether such a feature existed before or not. The causes of apathy can be anything.

Everyone has their own threshold for resistance to stress, and some may be unsettled by the death of a loved one, while others may just have to endure the deception of a friend. But the result of such a shake-up for the psyche is emotional burnout, and at this moment, instead of an energetic and purposeful person, an apathetic person appears before us.

Another reason for the occurrence of such conditions may be physical or emotional exhaustion due to overload. Sometimes apathy occurs due to vitamin deficiency or hormonal imbalance.


Those who don’t need anything can only be pitied in the world.

Sergey Yesenin. Cold gold of the moon

And you don’t know who to go to if you’re so gloomy - a psychotherapist or an undertaker.

Vera Polozkova. Blockade

Apathy as a personality quality is a tendency to often experience a state of lethargy, dispassion and indifference to everything that happens; show a lack of internal motivation for any activity, suppressed emotions, a decrease or complete absence of interests and aspirations.

One day, a patient came to a famous Leningrad doctor complaining of apathy, lack of appetite, and prolonged bouts of melancholy. After listening carefully and carefully examining the hypochondriac, the doctor offered him the last radical remedy - to read one story by Mikhail Zoshchenko three times a day. True, the doctor added, now after the Stalin-Zhdanov pogrom, Zoshchenko’s works are banned, but he, the doctor, in the name of medicine, would risk giving a patient a book from his own library. “Alas,” the patient smiled sadly, “this will not help me.” I am Zoshchenko.

Apathy lay on the sofa and looked at the ceiling with indifference. - I am tired of everything! Life is not interesting, boring. - Yes, yes, you are right! Not like in the old days, oh, how good it was before. The grass was greener and the sky bluer, not like it is now. Horror! — the Pessimist said lamentingly. - How delightful it is to live now! - the Optimist flew in enthusiastically, - What a blue sky! How green the grass is! What a bright sun... - Yes, yes! We need to move, friends, with our feet, feet on the grass, exercise under the blue sky, sunbathe in the sun,” said the Enthusiast, who was following the Optimist. - Why did the sloths lie down? So many things need to be done! - Forward to nature. Sun, air and water are our best friends! - said the Optimist and left, followed by the Enthusiast full of ideas and plans. - What, maybe I should go and have a look? I am sure that nothing will work out for them, the weather will probably get worse, it will rain, they will get wet, catch a cold, and get sick. It may not go, which I haven't seen. No, nothing will work out for them, I’ll go and warn them and if they blame themselves, I have nothing to do with it, I warned them. The pessimist got up from his chair and, turning to Apathy, asked, “How are you, with me?” - What more. I’d rather lie down, think, philosophize... - Well, okay, I’ll go, otherwise I still need to catch up with them. I’ll have to run, which means I might stumble, break my leg, or God forbid I’ll get hit by a car. No, you need to be quiet. On foot...” with these words the Pessimist left the room. Apathy was still lying on the sofa, staring at the ceiling. “What is there to think about, what to philosophize about?” Everything is so lousy, uninteresting, boring.

Apathy is an unwillingness to come to terms with the will of time or fate. With frightening frequency, it, like coastal waves, rolls onto consciousness, and a person turns into an impassive creature with the name “I don’t care.” He doesn’t show emotions, he doesn’t care about everything that happens around him, he doesn’t want and can’t do anything, internal motivation dies, his motivations wither before his eyes, the only desire is for everyone to leave him alone, let him lie down and rest. Apathy cannot concentrate on anything useful and does not want to delve into the essence of the words of others. Pleasure and displeasure do not affect an apathetic person in any way; they do not evoke either positive or negative emotions in him. Staying motionless in bed, you don’t even have to wash your face, comb your hair, shave, in a word, express your lethargy, fatigue and powerlessness with all your appearance.

Reasons for apathy are a dime a dozen: some unfortunate event has occurred, and a person can fall into prolonged apathy. For example, a business went bankrupt, the husband left, invested money in the wrong place and was left with nothing, the car and wife were stolen. From all this, you can burn out emotionally and turn into an apathetic person, from whose appearance alone you can easily read grief, lethargy and fatigue on your face. Apathy can be a consequence of physical and emotional overload and even vitamin deficiency.

Apathy is always a “bell” that a person does not live in harmony with the laws of the universe, attaches excessive importance to something, idealizes something or someone, or has excessive affection for someone or something. Having lost the object of his affection, a person prone to apathy manifests in full “beauty” his quality, which is painful for a normal life. For example, the dacha burned down. A person does not want to come to terms with the fact that this is destined for him, that this event teaches him something. It is necessary not to fall into apathy, but to think about what life, like an endless lesson, teaches, what it wants to suggest.

Material attachments are the main providers of apathy. They are entirely related to the energy of passion. Greed, envy and vanity provoke a person to participate in the continuous race “Who is cooler than whom.” Breakdowns on the race track cause lethargy. Watching with envy his rivals pass by indifferently, he first gets terribly upset, and then falls into a state of doing nothing. Ancient wisdom says: “Destroy your doubts with the sword of knowledge and fight without attachment, shaking off apathy.”

If attachments are the energy of passion, then apathy is generally the energy of ignorance; it needs to be “shaken off” like dust and strive for a joyful and happy life. Just don’t need to “remove” yourself from a state of apathy with additional loads or forceful methods. Apathy is overcome by interest, so you need to try to arouse some kind of interest in yourself. It is not for nothing that the carriers of apathy are not passionate, not professional and not ambitious people.

The Russian writer I. A. Goncharov in the novel “Oblomov”, using the example of the hero of the novel, Ilya Ilyich Oblomov, wrote out the image of apathy. Oblomov’s apathy is quite specific. She is submissive, peaceful, smiling, with no desire to get out of inactivity. Oblomov is completely undemanding; His corner and sofa are enough for him. Let them talk around him, even argue, as long as they don’t demand any talking or arguing from him. He loves to sleep, loves to eat, but does not tolerate greed, is hospitable, but does not like to visit. He does nothing and does not want to do anything. His desires manifest themselves in the form: “It would be nice if this could happen.” But he doesn’t know how this can happen. Oblomov loves to dream, but he is frightened by any contact between dreams and reality. Here he tries to blame the matter on someone or “maybe.” Oblomov explains the reason for his passivity and apathy in a conversation with Zakhar: “You know all this, you saw that I was brought up tenderly, that I never endured cold or hunger, I didn’t know need, I didn’t earn my own bread and in general I didn’t engage in dirty work.” "

Russian publicist D.I. Pisarev writes: “Oblomov’s apathy is not like the heavy sleep in which his parents’ mental faculties were immersed: this apathy paralyzes actions, but does not wooden his feelings, does not take away his ability to think and dream; the highest aspirations of his mind and heart, awakened by education, did not freeze; the human feelings embedded by nature in his soft soul did not harden: they seemed to float with fat, but were preserved in all their primitive purity. Oblomov never brought these feelings and aspirations into contact with practical life; he was never disappointed because he never lived or acted. Having remained until adulthood with full faith in the perfection of people, having created for himself some kind of fantastic world, Oblomov retained the purity and freshness of feeling that characterizes a child; but this freshness of feeling is useless both for him and for others. He is capable of love and friendship; but love cannot arouse energy in him; he is tired of loving, just as he is tired of moving, worrying and living. His whole personality attracts him with his honesty, purity of thoughts and “dovelike”, as the author himself puts it, tenderness of feelings; but in this attractive personality there is no masculinity and strength, no initiative. This flaw ruins all its good properties. Oblomov is timid and shy. In his intelligence and development, he stands above the masses that make up our public opinion, but in none of his actions does he express his superiority; he does not value the light - and yet he is afraid of its gossip and unquestioningly obeys its sentences; he is frightened by the slightest collision with life, and if such a collision can be avoided, he is ready to sacrifice his feelings, hopes, material benefits; in a word, Oblomov does not know how and does not want to fight with anything and no matter how.”

Petr Kovalev 2013 Other articles by the author:

Apathy in psychology

It is not difficult for a professional psychologist to determine that a person is depressed. To better understand what an apathetic person means, it is worth considering the signs of manifestation of these personality traits.

The first sign may be a loss of interest in past hobbies. A person reduces his contacts, communicates less with loved ones, stops showing interest in various events, and stops participating in them. Does not show emotions where before he would have been angry or happy. His behavior changes: he speaks without expressing emotions, begins to alienate himself from society, most often ignores the questions that are asked to him, and if he answers, it is only superficially.

An apathetic person does not empathize, he is not at all interested in the problems and grief of others, he does not rejoice in the successes of loved ones. Sometimes he even begins to push away his relatives in a state of apathy due to the lack of emotional reactions. It is important to note that the more attention is paid to such a person, the more actively he tries to distance himself from the world. There is a tendency to spend time aimlessly and inactively. All actions occur, rather, by inertia, without much participation. Autonomic reactions also disappear, that is, the person no longer blushes or turns pale, and spontaneous gestures disappear. A lethargic state can also provoke a person to give up personal hygiene.

Symptoms and signs

Apathy - how to deal with it if you don’t want to do anything

The main symptoms of apathy include:

  1. Indifference to events occurring in life;
  2. Bad mood;
  3. Drowsiness;
  4. Loss of appetite;
  5. Impaired concentration.

Mental activity decreases. Therefore, both the person himself and the people around him can determine the presence of apathy. A number of mental illnesses involve a more severe form of the symptom, called apato-abulic syndrome. It combines two components: apathy and abulia; not only the emotional, but also the volitional sphere is disrupted. A person may lose interest in those things that previously gave him pleasure. With apatho-abulic syndrome, a person loses sympathy for the troubles of loved ones, as well as the ability to rejoice at their successes.

With a feeling of complete apathy, the disease reaches the point that patients stop going to the toilet and refuse to perform hygiene procedures. The slightest action requires enormous willpower. At the same time, ancient instincts may manifest themselves: sexual desire or hunger may intensify.

In schizophrenia, apato-abulic syndrome develops gradually. First, the patient loses the ability to experience strong emotions. For example, he may not react in any way to the death of his son, but watch TV and laugh at the comedy. After some time, the ability to experience emotions is completely lost.

This condition is called emotional dullness. The apathetic component appears first, then it is joined by lethargy and weakness of will. Apathy does not last forever - as soon as the relapse ends, the person’s emotional sphere is somewhat restored.

To bring a person out of apathy, you need to select a specific key for him

With apathy, the ability not only to express, but also to experience emotions is lost. Minimal facial expressions may occur: the voice is monotonous and there is no gesticulation. In weaker forms, the patient expresses emotions, but much weaker compared to healthy people.

For your information. Apathy can be a manifestation of mild mental disorders or occur after taking psychotropic drugs.

Important! With depression, apathy also occurs, but it is fundamentally different from schizophrenic. In the first case, emotional manifestations are present, but they slow down because the overall activity of the nervous system decreases. In schizophrenia, this symptom can be combined with delusional ideas, thinking disorders, memory impairment, and catatonic disorders.

How to solve a problem

If you begin to notice that you are susceptible to despondency and loss of interest in everything, then you should start fighting this condition, and the sooner the better. The very first thing you should do is to avoid stressful situations, give yourself timely rest and be sure to get enough sleep at night.

It is very difficult to cope with such a condition in a regime of constant stress, lack of normal sleep and proper nutrition. Psychologists recommend drawing up a clear action schedule. On weekends, spend time outdoors, visit parks, and see friends. The body needs energy, so cancel all diets, create a menu rich in vitamins, proteins, minerals and carbohydrates.

Practical advice

They will help fight apathy every day.

  • Change the melody on your alarm clock to a more pleasant one, perhaps to your favorite song. Do this as often as possible.
  • Diversify your diet, fill the menu with your favorite food, include chocolate, bananas, ice cream.
  • If you want to buy something, buy it, be it clothes or headphones. Shopping will bring joy.
  • Think about hobbies and favorite activities. Perhaps you have long wanted to finish reading a book, but never found the time, or you constantly put off going to billiards.
  • Go in for sports - even banal exercise helps cope with drowsiness.
  • Try to listen to more positive music and watch comedies, even if it seems that you are not in the mood for this.
  • Start rearranging and improving your personal space.
  • Record your successes and achievements. Even just making a list of everyday activities and checking the boxes next to them will show you that you are achieving something every day. And it doesn’t matter that the list won’t include conquering the world, but taking out the trash and washing the dishes.

Laziness with apathy

There is one character trait that is completely inappropriate in everyday life, but almost every apathetic person experiences it. Psychology claims that laziness is the eternal companion of apathy. And in order to get rid of it, you need to manage your time and mentally prepare yourself for the fact that you need to do something. Motivation is also very important.

It could be an episode of your favorite TV series after finishing your to-do list, or a delicious lunch. Everyone has their own levers of pressure on the psyche, the main thing is to pick up these keys and not allow inaction. Another method of dealing with laziness is to take it to the point of absurdity. This is a very effective way: sit in a chair and do nothing, absolutely nothing. And so you need to sit until there is a sincere desire to complete the necessary tasks, for which just recently there was no moral or physical strength.

Disease prevention

Mental rigidity - what is it, definition

If apathy is provoked by mental illness, then it is very difficult to prevent it. Genetics is to blame, being the main risk factor for schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and other disorders. In cases where the cause is neurosis, the classic rules of psychological hygiene apply:

  1. Get rid of inadequate expectations and inflated ambitions. Development must be carried out in small steps. It is necessary to get rid of perfectionism and do everything possible to improve your life.
  2. It is important to focus on what depends on the individual and stop trying to achieve results that you cannot influence on your own. For example, there is no need to remake another person.
  3. Decide on your goals and don’t be afraid to dream.
  4. Learn to see opportunities where others see problems.

If apathy is provoked by schizophrenia, then measures are needed to prevent relapse of the disease.

How to overcome apathy due to depression

If the apathetic state has developed against the background of depression, then it will not be possible to cope with it using standard simple methods. The result may not appear for a very long time, and in some cases a person will not be able to cope with this condition without professional help from specialists.

The main thing is to understand the root cause of this condition and eliminate it. In a state of apathy, this will not be so easy to do. This requires serious self-analysis, recognition of mistakes and wrong actions. If you feel that you cannot cope on your own, it is better to consult a psychologist or psychotherapist.

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