Emotional stagnation: when nothing seems to change
The world of emotions is usually described as chaotic or complex, a jungle where it is easy to get lost and where multiple dangers lurk. Dependency, toxic relationships, jealousy… are risks that undermine our life trajectory. However, these potentially negative elements of our emotional facet may come to seem like prizes if we compare them with their nemesis: emotional stagnation .
If a roller coaster of sensations can sometimes be exhausting and make us suffer, the flattening of emotions is not a better alternative; in fact, once experienced, few people want it.
Next we will explore what the phenomenon of emotional stagnation consists of and what its causes may be.
Emotional stagnation as lack of variety
Emotional stagnation can be described as the absence of an evolution in experiencing emotions . That is, the changes from one emotion to another disappear, and the person experiencing it remains in a state of apathy.
As sensations such as euphoria are characterized by peaks of emotional activation, they cannot last long, and therefore the person who lives in his flesh the emotional stagnation will have the vetoed step to these intense sensations .
This makes the day-to-day life of people living with emotional stagnation monotonous and tedious. But this is not a monotony that can be explained by the fact that people do the same things all the time; someone who faces new challenges every day is capable of feeling this emotional emptiness. The monotony, in this case, is internal and mental , and is partly independent of what you do and how you interact with the outside world.
Thus, emotional stagnation can be described as a desert, a place where there is no hint of enriching experiences, not because we have no resources around us, but because there is a dynamic of mental processes in us that has accustomed us to experiencing everything through the filter of monotony.
What can be its causes?
The presence of emotional stagnation can have very different causes. Let’s look at them.
1. Depressive disorders
Depressive disorders, such as major depression, are diagnostic labels that often come with emotional stagnation. Many depressed people are not simply sad, but rather notice a certain inability to experience intense feelings.
For example, anhedonia, which is the inability to experience pleasant sensations or euphoria, is very present in cases of depression.
Abulia, which is the lack of motivation and initiative to do things and set goals, is also typical of depression, and is closely related to emotional stagnation. In the end, if we anticipate that doing certain things will not make us feel better why do them?
2. Experiencing very intense peaks of emotion
Having gone through a stage where emotions have been very intense can make us unable to feel things intensely later on, at least for a while, if we don’t do anything about it.
For example, this is very noticeable in people’s love lives : the fact of having gone through a very passionate relationship makes those that come after it smaller and, by comparison, we experience them as a total absence of relevant stimuli.
Chemical addictions to substances are capable of causing a very sudden emotional stagnation to appear. Simply, the entire part of our brain that is responsible for producing emotions, the limbic system, makes its number one priority the search for the drug .
Thus, the emotional void is in this case the other side of the coin of the need for doses; everything that has nothing to do with the search for the substance that is needed disappears from our mind, both cognitively and emotionally.
4. Brain injuries
Some neurological disorders produced by injuries in parts of the brain can simply stop emotions from being experienced.
In addition, in some cases injuries to the brain cause other mental processes to fail as well, which means that these cases of emotional stagnation come with other problems.
However, sometimes only the part related to the production of emotions fails, causing the person to begin to experience reality as if a piece failed, something very difficult to explain. This implies a radical change in the person’s lifestyle, taking into account that, contrary to what is believed, even psychopaths experience emotions.
Fortunately, these cases are exceptional and can usually be detected through brain scanning technologies.