Can’t cry during despairing situations? No, you’re not a psychopath

By Linnette Cruz, 11th Grade

Have you ever had something distressing going on in your life like the death of a loved one or hearing about something bad happening to a close friend and not being able to cry or even react? Grief is a very powerful emotional or physical reaction to the loss of someone or something. It consists of feelings of sadness or misery and that longing to be with what was once ours again. When grieving, a person might respond to these overwhelming emotions by not wanting to eat or sleep, or even burying themselves in their work and other responsibilities in order to not feel the pain of reality (Whalley, 2020). However, others might not have a response at all and go on with their lives as if nothing ever happened. They may feel alarmed by this fact and go as far as self-diagnosing themselves as psychopaths because of their reaction, or lack thereof. If you are one of these people, you should probably stop trying to convince yourself that you are a psychopath for simply dealing with loss or displaying emotions differently. 

Grief is unpredictable, meaning that the way we as humans experience grief is very individual to oneself. With that said, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Because of this, some victims of loss might not seem so engulfed by these emotions and feel emotionally numb instead. The way we process grief also depends on different factors, such as our relationship with the individual, how they died, and our past experiences with managing death. In truth, any way of coping is and should be considered normal. 

Even the fact that you may be questioning yourself on whether or not you are a psychopath is a clear sign that you are no such thing. According to psychotherapist Amy Morin from verywellmind.com, individuals with psychopathic traits usually suffer from antisocial behavior, narcissism, lack of guilt, and lack of empathy (Morin, 2020). Most importantly, psychopaths are not able to differentiate right from wrong and be self-aware of their behavior. All things considered, you can now rest easy knowing that whatever you are feeling is not wrong and that you are not alone in your coping process. 

Even if you are not able to cry or feel anguish after a traumatic or tragic event has occurred to you or a family member, this does not mean that you lack empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share mutual feelings with another being. Not shedding a tear or two does not mean that you do not care for what has happened; instead, the way that you are there for this person by lending an ear or a shoulder to cry on is how you can truly demonstrate your empathy. 

Especially as teenagers in this day and age are constantly bombarded by the horrors of our society due to how accessible the internet and the media in general are, many have a hard time managing emotions as an adult would. Most bury their emotions deep to keep pushing on with their everyday lives. If a disturbing situation may arise, this person might not even display much of a reaction. It doesn’t mean that they don’t feel or are oblivious to the world around them, but that they are so used to hearing about the ugly side of the human experience that they aren’t phased at all. Additionally, people often consider crying and displaying emotions as a sign of weakness, and when they transition into their adulthood, there may not be any trace of them left. This is most likely because in many cultures around the world, showing sadness or anger is considered taboo. Moreover, many parents even go as far as to discourage their young boys from crying or showing any signs of emotion, adding unnecessary pressure on these kids to prove their masculinity to their friends and family members. 

It is important to remember that having intense emotions is okay and that having none is just as fine too. The nitty-gritty of it all is that some people are able to cry more easily than others, while others are not so much. Nevertheless, this does not mean that they have less of a heart than those who are more in touch with their feelings. You shouldn’t consider yourself a psychopath for feeling like you cope differently, or not at all. At the end of the day, grief is not the same for everyone, and as long as you do no harm with your personal coping mechanisms, your way of grieving is perfectly acceptable.

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