I don’t feel anything. I have no attachments to most of the population. Other than about 15 people that I actually care about, the rest of the world could die tomorrow and they’d just be names on a piece of paper to me. Including my wife and children. I genuinely don’t care about them. I know according to society and psychology that should bother me, but it doesn’t.

A. The one missing element in your letter was what may have preceded your feeling desensitized. You listed your occupation as “military.” Is it possible that your desensitization may have been the result of your military training or experience? Military training often involves the use of virtual reality systems. That training has been found to increase desensitization. It is also common for soldiers to return home, especially those who have experienced combat and war, and feel disconnected from the world.

Desensitization involves the inability to feel emotions. It’s akin to emotional numbness. This may happen as a defensive mechanism. Think of a defense mechanism as a psychological protection system. They are involuntary and unconscious and are meant to reduce psychological stress. Desensitization is also a common feature of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There are multiple, evidence-based treatments for PTSD including cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy (EMDR). You should strongly consider visiting a mental health professional. Your local Veterans Affairs hospital should be able to help you.

Recent longitudinal studies have indicated that the majority of people experience transient mental health symptoms at some point during their lives. In other words, we all struggle from time to time. It is nothing to be ashamed of because it happens to virtually everyone. If you’re willing to seek treatment, you will likely experience a positive outcome. I hope that you will consider it. Please take care.

Dr. Kristina Randle