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?

Nichole Price
Nichole Price
Specializing in Trauma and Related Disorders

I am so sorry this has happened to you! I hope you have some people you find emotionally supportive around you! In terms of your question, I understand what you are talking about. Sometimes when a person experiences a traumatic event, an event called Dissociation occurs. Dissociation is the brain's way of temporary creating and increasing  "emotional distance" between what is happening and what you are feeling and experiencing. This is a kind of natural coping mechanism, and it can occur just prior to, during, and after an event has occurred. People describe the feeling as being "numb," or detached from others, their surroundings, and even from their own body. All of these descriptions are accurate and they are your brain's attempt to try and keep you safe from emotions that may otherwise overwhelm you. This is good, in the short-term, because you are not having to immediately face and cope with the immensely painful feelings associated with your trauma. But it is also not-so-good in that it also blocks your ability to feel positive and pleasurable emotions. So while your brain is protecting you, it is also preventing feelings you need now more than ever (such as regaining a sense of safety, soothing your hurts, and feeling empowered for your survival).

You are not a sociopath, so do not worry about that, but I would strongly recommend that you consider seeing a therapist or other supportive mental health professional to help you work through what is happened. There are ways for you to heal from your experience which will help you get back to a place where you can feel safe enough to "feel" again.  It might be an uncomfortable journey, at times, but you are already hurting and your life is being negatively impacted, now. Good therapy sometimes is like pulling out a splinter--it may hurt a bit to dig that sucker out, but once it's out, your body can finally start to heal.  It might seem better (and less painful) to leave it alone, and ignore (avoid) it. But you risk INFECTION by your inaction which will be 100 x worse than just digging it out. 

Best of luck to you!

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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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