Is it possible for a person to stop feeling emotions?

I was raped a couple months ago, Since then, along with other unfortunately events that have occurred, I have been having trouble feeling emotions. It's almost as if I'm a sociopath lacking any feeling. What can I do to change this?

Lola Georg
Lola Georg
www.GeorgAssociates.com

Terrible things do happen in life, and I am sorry to hear about what happened to you. Please rest assured that you are not a sociopath, and that your reactions are normal responses to traumatic events. I'm guessing you are experiencing a sense of numbness, which is a common response to trauma. The best thing you can do is to get some trauma counseling with a professional counselor.  As you process your experience, you will be able to feel emotions again. However, the first feelings to come back may be related to trauma, such as fear, panic, and a sense of hyper vigilance. A professional counselor will be able to help you tolerate these feelings, manage them, and heal from your trauma.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide.   If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Kathy Hicks
Kathy Hicks
Counseling and Psychotherapy Services

You are describing a very legitimate reaction to trauma.  Rape is an aweful experience and I am very sorry that happened to you.  When horrible things happen, people often react in a way that interferes with the ability to live a normal life and function the way they did in the past.  This is very common and the goal is to help you manage the stress caused by dealing with negative events and with help you can regain emotional well-being.  This is especially important if you have had more than one negative thing happen.  Oftentimes, the unconscious reaction is to become numb and avoid all feelings, especially if more than one negative event occurred.  

A big part of what causes people trouble are feelings of guilt.  We often blame ourselves when bad things happen. It is actually difficult to comprehend the concept that we don't always have control of what happens in life.  In addition, when you mentioned feeling like a sociopath, it sounded like you feel like your reaction is wrong.  The first thing you can do is realize that your feelings and reactions are o.k., you aren't doing anything wrong, and nothing is wrong with you.  

The next step is to start dealing with the impact of these traumatic experiences. Identifying your feelings, and knowing the thoughts and beliefs that are behind those emotions can help you regain your sense of happiness.  

Research shows that understanding and expressing those thoughts and feelings can help.  If doesn't sound like you need to do anything to change yourself, but talking to a counselor can be helpful in managing your reaction to a incredibly traumatic experience.  

I hope this helps you understand your feelings and can get to a place where you enjoy life.  


The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Catherine Hodge
Catherine Hodge
Licensed Mental Health Counselor

First and foremost, be gentle and patient with yourself. It is normal to feel a range of emotions after a severe trauma including no emotions at all. Try not to push yourself to feel, just notice the lack of emotion you are experiencing right now. Maybe write about your emotions and the lack of them or talk about it with a safe person. Unfortunately recovering from trauma can take time and it's best done at your own pace. If you aren't feeling there may be a reason you aren't feeling. For severe trauma I always recommend working with a trained trauma professional who has the training to guide you on your path to healing fully.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Sherry Katz, LCSW
Couples and Family Therapist, LCSW

Sociopaths don't know they are sociopaths.

Clearly, you realize you have pretty deep emotions and have lived through several severely distressing situations.

Your sense of self may be protecting for a while until you recover the practical aspects of daily life and feel some sense of predictability and stability in your life.

Knowing and feeling disturbing emotions which rupture basic trust that other people are safe, is itself a raw process.

Yes, it is possible to become numb emotionally.   The good purpose is to protect you from additional hurt.

When your inner world feels itself ready, more of your emotions from the recent distressing events will be accessible.

If many months pass and you see no progress, then definitely consider a few sessions with a therapist who would be able to guide you to become more open to your feelings.

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.
Laurel Fay
Laurel Fay
Marriage and Relationship Expert

You're not a sociopath - you're traumatized. Shutting off feelings is our brain's automatic way of protecting us when something bad happens and we just can't deal with any more pain. It's temporary - which is both good and bad news, because after the numb goes away and your brain decides you're ready to handle it, you'll feel the emotional pain.  My advice is to get a therapist ASAP so you have a safe place and a safe person when that happens.

This is a horrible thing that happened to you, but you are not a horrible person. With good therapy you will learn to assimilate this into the rest of your life. You'll never forget, but you won't have the same pain about it  .

Good luck! You can do this!

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

I am so sorry to hear about what happened to you! What you are describing is being in a state of shock. You haven't suddenly become a sociopath - this is a normal reaction to an event that is completely overwhelming. There are most likely too many feelings to feel right now, so your body in its wisdom is shutting them down. You absolutely can recover, and it would be really important to get some trauma counseling with a counselor who feels safe for you to talk with. This is not the kind of situation to try and handle totally on your own. 

The information above is intended as general information...  (more)The information above is intended as general information based on minimal information, and does not constitute health care advice. This information does not constitute communication with a counselor/therapist nor does it create a therapist-client relationship nor any of the privileges that relationship may provide. If you are currently feeling suicidal or are in crisis, call 911 or proceed to your local emergency room.

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