I Never Feel Empathy, Only Anger

Published: February 20, 2015
Dear I Never Feel Empathy, Only Anger,

I have a question about my mental health. I am 15 and being in health class has brought to my attention the fact that I feel no empathy. We have speakers come in to talk about suicide or abuse and I have to stop myself from laughing. I don't feel sorry for these people and find it pathetic that they have a career based on something "terrible" that has happened to them. I watched the Amanda Todd video and just couldn't feel anything for her. I just don't care. I can't care. I cannot find an ounce of empathy or sympathy anywhere in me. Tell me again about the poor, starving children in other places in the world and I'll tell you I don't care. People who know me call me cold hearted and soulless and I don't disagree with them. This has also led me to discover that I don't feel a wide range of normal emotions. When somebody close to me dies, I don't care. I (fake) cry the way everyone expects me to and then carry on with my day. I don't feel pity for myself or others. I have never experienced joy. It's like I'm in a constant state of contentment and lack all other emotions. I still laugh at jokes but it's been learned. I have never loved. I seriously don't think I have the ability to feel love. The only emotion I have ever felt is anger. Anger is the only emotion I think I have ever experienced. Do I possibly have some kind of disorder? If so, what might it be?

Dear I Never Feel Empathy, Only Anger,

TeenHealthFX cannot give you any kind of definitive diagnosis over the internet since there is quite a bit of information we don’t know. However, in responding solely to what you have written it would appear that there is some kind of attachment disorder present. When we are able to attach to others in a healthy way, we are able to identify with others in order to feel their pain, their happiness, their distress, and any other emotions they are experiencing. It sounds as if you are not able to identify with others in order to feel a range of emotions.

These types of attachments issues can be problematic, but they can also be addressed through work with a reputable therapist, such as a clinical social worker or clinical psychologist, who has experience in working with people with attachment disorders. A therapist can help you to find out what happened to cause these issues around attaching to others in a health way and to do the work to address these issues.

If you live in northern New Jersey and need help finding a therapist you can call the Access Center from Atlantic Behavioral Health at 888-247-1400. Outside of this area you can log onto the US Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website for referrals in your area. You can also contact your insurance company to get a list of in-network mental health providers or check with your school social worker or psychologist to get a list of referrals in your area.