Lack of compassion: Hardhearted, unfeeling, devoid of feeling for others, merciless, unmerciful, having or showing no mercy and unsympathetic.

There is a direct link between a lack of Compassion and Emotional Detachment Disorder. 

Compassion is defined as a feeling of concern for the suffering of others (rather than experiencing distress in the face of the suffering of others.) Qualities of compassion are patience and wisdom; kindness and perseverance; warmth and resolve.

People lack normal empathy, or the ability to feel what others are feeling, when something has gone wrong in their brains. It might be the result of a genetic defect, or physical damage due to trauma, or a response to their environment.


In psychology, emotional detachment is the avoidance of emotional connections. It may be a temporary reaction to highly emotional circumstances or a chronic condition such as a depersonalization disorder.  As such it is a deliberate mental attitude which avoids engaging the emotions of others.

Emotions are part of the very thing that makes us human. We feel so much that when that feeling is missing it can be very hard to connect with others. Being able to feel the same things is an important part of empathizing and communicating with each other. Emotional detachment disorder has two meanings. The first is when someone avoids situations which may cause anxiety or overwhelming feelings as a way of coping. The second, it’s simply a way that some people maintain personal boundaries by setting themselves apart psychically when dealing with an emotionally demanding situation.

There are multiple different types of detachment, but emotional detachment is a purely mental disorder. A common misconception is that those with emotional detachment disorder are incapable of expressing and interpreting feelings when the truth is that they simply struggle to so they choose the easier path of avoiding it instead. Essentially, by not feeling, a person removes themselves from the situation, a protective measure that is usually learned from a traumatic experience.

When we are children, adults are seen as “all powerful” because they are in charge. If there is an abusive situation or one where the parent themselves cannot healthily express emotions they may also be a distant or disciplinary figure. A common example of this is in boys who cry. They are often censured and told that such expressions of emotion are unsightly and unacceptable, causing the boy to learn that he should not behave this way even if it is a healthy and normal expression of emotion.

In severe cases, patients can develop personality issues such as multiple personality disorder in an attempt to cope with their emotions by assigning them to “someone else.”

People with EDD usually have a strict upbringing with parents who are very restrictive and controlling. They will have dealt with extremes from their parent figures – alternatively being loved and then punished with extremes. There may have also been threats of abandonment, and some minor infractions that would have been ignored by peer parents could have elicited either severe punishment or abuse leading to a feeling that they were at fault specifically.

This would cause a child to start believing that their feelings were dangerous since the feelings of their parent are so unpredictable and so likely to mean punishment. This would lead to a gradual withdrawal from emotions since their emotional needs were likely not being met. The child would choose to break the emotional cycle by using the only power they had over the situation – withdrawing their emotions in an attempt to prevent future abuse.

Another cause of emotional detachment is high anxiety situations. Because anxiety is often linked to feelings of overwhelming situations that give similar feelings within the body create the same “shut off” response in an attempt for the psyche to save itself.

Many people deal with crippling anxiety, but not everyone experiences emotional detachment disorder.