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Limited Emotions/Zero Empathy

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Over the last couple of years I slowly started to realize that I’m not normal in the way I feel emotions. I don’t ever remember being hyper-emotional, but when I was young I still FELT, I remember crying, having crushes, etc. In the past 4-5 years, however, I’ve been having a hard time feeling anything at all. The only emotions I can seem to feel are irritation bordering on anger, slight depression, and uneasiness, outside of these emotions, I can’t feel anything. To make matters worse, I’ve completely lost the ability to empathize with others, or rather, I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt empathy towards anyone. I noticed my issue upon a death within the family, throughout the entire process I didn’t feel anything, at points I even tried to force myself to feel as I thought I would be a horrible for not doing so.

Strangely enough, every couple of weeks I feel emotion at the most random moments, I can sit staring at a family members face and be overcome with feelings of love, or look at a beautiful vista and feel overwhelmed by the beauty of it all. These bursts are quick and separated over long periods of time. I am completely relieved at these moments however, and try to enjoy them as best I can as they make me feel alive.

I cannot remember the last time I cried, let alone felt bad for someone else’s sake. Despite the lack of tears, I do, on occasion, feel depressed. Some days I will wake up completely depressed. This depression dissipates when I’m around friends or family, but it always comes back at the dead of night, when I’m alone and lost in my thoughts.

I have no idea what to do, any and all help is greatly appreciated.

Limited Emotions/Zero Empathy

Answered by on -


I wouldn’t be so quick to pathologize these emotional reactions. As a teenager you are going to be exposed to a wide range of emotions and reactions that will be new to you. Your body, social network, and identity are evolving. Right now I would keep watch over these emotions as you have been doing, but hold off on seeing the range and reactions as bad. They may simply be part of normal emotional growth.

I would also encourage you to take the character strength survey to learn about those aspects of your makeup that constitute your strength. These will be important to you as you go forward.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan
Proof Positive Blog @ PsychCentral

Limited Emotions/Zero Empathy

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Dan Tomasulo Ph.D., TEP, MFA, MAPP teaches Positive Psychology in the graduate program of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University, Teachers College and works with Martin Seligman, the Father of Positive Psychology in the Masters of Applied Positive Psychology (MAPP) program at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Director of the New York Certification in Positive Psychology for the Open Center in New York City and on faculty at New Jersey City University. Sharecare has honored him as one of the top 10 online influencers on the topic of depression. For more information go to: He also writes for Psych Central's Ask the Therapist column and the Proof Positive blog.

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2018). Limited Emotions/Zero Empathy. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 1, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 May 2018 (Originally: 15 Jun 2016)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018
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