Ataraxia: when there is nothing that affects us emotionally

the term ataraxia it has its roots in ancient Greek and signifies the absence of disturbance.

It makes sense to use a word to refer to something so specific, because in Greece during the time of Plato, Aristotle and Alexander the Great there were philosophical schools that claimed our ability to leave nothing to you. affect. The Stoics and Epicureans, for example, practiced renouncing the great desires and impulses associated with easy sources of pleasure, something which resembled the monks of Eastern religions.

Ataraxia is therefore the absence of anxiety, anger or confusion.. In other words, it usually materializes as a tendency to calm down and not be disturbed.

However, the concept of ataraxia goes beyond philosophy and religions, and has gained a place in the fields of mental health.

Ataraxia in medicine and psychology

Sometimes the appearance of ataraxia is not due to a voluntary effort to follow the precepts of a religion or a philosophical doctrine which has gone through a phase of reflection on the subject. Many times, in fact, ataraxia has a totally unwanted and unexpected onset, following an accident that damaged the brain.

And it is that, while apparently the idea of ​​not getting angry or not being sad may be appealing, ataraxia caused by injury has serious consequences for the quality of life of those who experience it. His way of relating to others and his self-image change drastically because he unwittingly remains in a state of eternally unfazed.

Neurological ataraxia

It might sound strange, but it makes perfect sense: our brain is not just the set of organs that make possible consciousness, the ability to plan and think logically, or the use of language, but it t is also the basis of all the processes on which our emotional states are based. That means if parts of the human brain start to break down, some aspect of our emotional life can be altered, While the rest of the functions of our way of being remain more or less unchanged.

Just as head trauma is only part of the brain and not everyone’s death, what is changed after such an accident is just a (more or less important) plot of our mental life. In the case of ataraxia, this may be due to errors in the way the limbic system interacts with the frontal lobe, which is responsible, among other things, for “cushioning” the impact that our emotions have on our behavior. Short and medium term.

Thus, it is very difficult for a stimulus to radically change the emotional state of a person with this type of ataraxia; not because he was trained in certain meditation techniques, but because his brain circuits began to function abnormally.

How are people with medical ataraxia?

Pathological ataraxia it manifests itself through these main characteristics:

1. Tendency to passivity

People with medical ataraxia they barely take the initiative and only react to what is going on around them.

2. Absence of onset of intense emotional states

Regardless of what the person wants, no anger or anxiety is felt, But there are also no moments of joy.

3. Unusual emotional stability

Due to the above, the emotional state of the person does not seem to depend on the environment: it always remains more or less the same.

4. Impossibility of frustration

The fact that the events do not have the positive consequences that we expected does not produce frustration in the person.

5. Disappearance of guilt

This is one of the most notable consequences of ataraxia due to injury, at least from a moral and social perspective. The person with medical ataraxia she doesn’t feel affected by bad things that happen to herBut he also doesn’t react to seeing how his actions can harm others.

To conclude

The medical ataraxia is the specular image of what philosophical ataraxia would be taken to the extreme. Not only does this worsen the quality of life for those who experience it, but it also makes it difficult to establish adequate communication and emotional connections with others.

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