Expressionless or emotionless people? Am I alone here? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-10-2012, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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So I've done some research on "expressionless" and "emotionless" people and I can't come up with anything.  Hopefully someone here reads and understands what I am about to describe- is this depression?


A whole host of depression runs in my family although I do NOT feel depressed nor have I ever been diagnosed after visiting specialists.  That being said, I'm sure I had postpartum depression after my 1st child.


Anyway, my issue is that everyone I meet either thinks I'm mellow and on drugs (which I'm not- I only take the pill- nothing else).  It bothers me because I get comments from my husbands side of the family like "wow, if she is excited about that then it must really be good".  

Patients at work can yell at me and I won't show emotion (I thought that was the professional thing to do?) yet I get asked if I'm taking a sedative yet they get offended that I'm not reacting to them.  In my mind I'm thinking "yeah whatever keep yelling you are the one looking like the fool" but my face says "ok"- so my mind reacts but I keep a poker face.  


Only extremely happy events or life changes make me show true happiness- birth of my kids, skydiving, vacations, getting engaged, married, family visiting ect... The average little thing doesn't and I have to put on a show to really make "happiness" come across.  For example, getting a gift or someone showing pictures of their new dog or me finding the perfect bunk beds for my kids is not "thrilling".  For the gift- I'd smile and say thank you and maybe add that I can't wait to use it and buy xy or z, for the dog pic- I'd smile and say aww he is so cute  and for the bunk beds, I'd be internally excited but I wouldn't show the sales guy that I'm desperate for it- I like to get my deals.  Afterwards in the car, I'd say I can't wait to get it and we must stop at Lowe's for new paint.


It is like I am empty and can't feel sometimes.  Sure some things are more exciting than others but I really have the "I don't care" kind of mindset and not much "impresses" me.  I have to put on a show for my kids when they do well in school so they are encouraged but it isn't real to me.  yes I'm proud but my face wouldn't show it on its own.


Now, if someone makes me angry, it is like a switch and everyone knows through my eyes that I am angry- there is NO hiding that expression.  I'm not an angry kind of person but those incidents that trigger my anger truly show on my face.


Sometimes my sadness shows- my husband always says I have no empathy when we argue.  I hide my sadness when I'm at work- I'd rather be on a beach.  When my elderly parents leave to go back home (12 hrs away), I cry for about 20 min then I'm good to go.  When my grandmother died, I showed no emotion.  When my husband's best friend died, I showed no emotion but I sat with him and patted his back.  When my first patient died and I had to do CPR, I was nervous and lost sleep for about a month but nothing else.


I do feel an emptiness that can never seem to be fulfilled.  The only time I really felt "alive" is when I went skydiving and when a serious accident almost happened to my son.  Perhaps I need adrenaline to make me feel alive or show emotion?  Is it because I am depressed and need help?  I was physically abused as a child but my sister is not like this... thoughts?



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#2 of 14 Old 04-15-2012, 08:39 PM
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Hi. You are not alone.  Since I was a kindergardener I have been expressionless... this carried throughout my life... and as an adult I realized that what I had was post trauma.  My parents were very abusive and the abuse carried throughout my life with them.  I was also told that I had past partum depression as an young adult.  Due to the series of all trauma in my life I have had to struggle with post trauma every day for years.  I often get flashbacks of my dad telling me I did not feel what I said I felt or think what I said I thought.  He was a very hateful person and my mother would blame me if I expressed my fear of him as a child.  Due to the abuse, many times I ended up feeling therefore emotionless at times and many times I struggle today with not knowing how I feel.  I get therapy and I would suggest that you find a professional too and also get therapy.  It sounds like you might be going through some trauma as well.  I wish you the best.  Be good to your innerchild and love yourself and know that all things can be explained and resolved.  Take care! -Lisa

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#3 of 14 Old 04-15-2012, 08:57 PM
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Honestly, that does sound like depression to me.  Have you talked to a mental health professional?  Have you ever heard of the term anhedonia?  As I read your post, that was the word that instantly came to mind.

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#4 of 14 Old 04-15-2012, 10:18 PM
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Sounds like Asperger's tendencies, or "slight" autism.  You sound less connected to others, less interested, very introverted.  My dh has Asperger's and has trouble "acting interested" and engaging with what interests other people.  He "passes" and was never diagnosed but our son has been.  Dh is very high functioning and smart and loving and kind, but his expressionless and tendency in both facial expressions and when speaking really, really stands out.  He doesn't understand a lot of what other people find compelling and emotional, and he's not so good at faking it.  Women on the autism spectrum tend to have some extra ability to adapt and pick up on social expectations and "fake it"


I am a little like you with death and other losses.  I really do care but it doesn't devastate me the way it does others.  But someone once told me that there is no right way to grieve or right way to feel after a death.  If you don't feel much, that's okay.  I feel the loss, I feel sad, and I accept it and life goes on. 


I think being that introverted and having the ultimate poker face are only a problem to the degree they bother you.  They can be your normal, and that is okay. 


But the emptiness you describe makes me really sad for you.  That is a depression-related feeling.  I have been there.  I somehow learned to take joy in the very small things of life, in that which is beautiful, in making things beautiful.  Treasuring very small things, treasuring each breath as a gift. 


If you can find this happiness in your spirit in connection with something, no one needs to know...  Your outer demeanor I think is not a problem, except when it causes you a problem.  But how you feel inside does matter.

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#5 of 14 Old 04-16-2012, 01:01 AM
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I'm sorry you're feeling this way.  It does sound like depression.  The not feeling much about anything.  I think you could find someone to talk to that could help you find a way there.  Also abuse makes it easy to compartmentalise difficult situations.  I'm a very guarded person and controlling my emotions can sometimes mean I show no emotion.  To some people it seems like annoyance.  But it's not, after awhile it feels like you don't know how you're supposed to react.  It really started for me when I was younger and went through abuse.  It seemed right not to let on how hurt I was just to keep the peace inside and outside the home.  Also I was afraid to show emotion and ashamed.  So it could be a lot of things but it's best to talk it through with someone who could help you understand it all. 

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#6 of 14 Old 04-21-2012, 03:52 PM
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#7 of 14 Old 04-21-2012, 04:09 PM
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Do you find you have bonding issues? We were abused and my sis is very expressionless and also has a detachment disorder from being left to cry so much...She can't connect with anyone really and doesn't feel comfortable hugging people or anything..She can't even connect with my kid.

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#8 of 14 Old 04-21-2012, 06:00 PM
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Maybe it's Schizoid personality disorder:

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#9 of 14 Old 04-23-2012, 01:27 PM
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The first thing that came to my mind was "flat affect".  I don't believe I've heard the terms expressionless or emotionless, but if you look up flat affect, you may find more material.  The reasons for it are varied, as several people here have already discussed. 


My brother and I both show flat affect.  For him it's because he has Aspbergers, for me, depression.  We were abused growing up, and I think both of us learned to turn inward and not show emotion because we've learned that doing so can have very negative consequences.  Get too excited about something, a parent will take it away.  Get too upset, we will be spanked or punished.  So adopting a flat affect can be a learned behavior, but it's still an attitude more common in introverts.

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#10 of 14 Old 06-01-2012, 03:11 AM
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There is a diffrence between being emotionless and depressed.

Depression: An illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts and that affects the way a person eats, sleeps, feels about himself or herself, and thinks about things.

About emotionless , yes there are people without emotions , including myself , people can lose their emotions in many ways , but mainly either thay born with a brain disorder , wich blocks the feelings , either thay go trough a huge sentimenal or emotional shock , and since the pain to huge , the human brain automatically blocks every feeling the person had. Being depressed means being sad . If a person is emotionless , he cant feel sadness , or happiness , guilt , anger , disgust and so on. Now people whit such a brain disorder or psychical problems are hardly curable , those kind of people either turn out really stupid , and silly , either a genius. People who dosent have emotions are inferior to the normal people , but they can turn out as a mentally ill person , and get into a hospital for that. it all depends if the respective person is controlled by his brain , or he is the one who controls the brain , well lets say it all depends on the power of will , if your will is weak , youll be consumed by the brain and youll end up in a hospital , bondaged and feeded by nursies , if your will is high enough to understand your own brain , than youll end up as a genius. Well , i cant really express what i really mean (english aint my main language) . but lets just take the famous people , like Albert Einstein or Thomas Edison or Isaac Newton , and many others , they all had a light mental illness , and dedicated their life to the physics . And if we logically think , thay didnt had any emotion beside the will to continue their work , and to achive the targets , to invent new things , nothing elves .

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#11 of 14 Old 01-20-2013, 11:20 AM
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Hello Crazybean, I also had flat affect for a long time. But in the past four years I have become healthier in so many ways. I did suffer depression on and off for years - mostly I believe it was reactive (i.e. as a reaction to events) as both my parents died when I was a teenager and I raised myself with little adult support. When my children were born I ended up getting overwhelmed at times mostly because of a continued lack of emotional support. I think the emotional faltlning may be a protective mechanism as other people have mentioned when in the past we have been overwhelmed emotionally. If no one is there to help you with that emotion eventually you learn to disconnect. This seems mostly unconscious. As I mentioned in the last few years I discovered I was suffering with severe anemia, when that was dealt with my depression and anxiety resolved themselves. I do think it was in combination with having less stress in our lives and our children getting older and moving out of the toddler stage (our youngest is now 6). I found at times that I was very unemotional in the past, even when one of my children was hurt. Unless there is an underlying issue such as Aspergers etc. I think emotional disconnectedness can be helped. I have found I am much more connected now and really feel so much joy and enjoyment in life. I would a) Make sure you have a full physical if you have not had one recently and b) Find some kind of help such as a counselor or another person you can talk to and spend time examining why you are so detached c) make sure you are getting enough sleep and exercise and eating healthfully - these are essential for optimal mental health.
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#12 of 14 Old 01-24-2013, 07:50 AM
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Originally Posted by Imakcerka View Post

I'm sorry you're feeling this way.  It does sound like depression.  The not feeling much about anything.  I think you could find someone to talk to that could help you find a way there.   I'm a very guarded person and controlling my emotions can sometimes mean I show no emotion.  To some people it seems like annoyance.  But it's not, after awhile it feels like you don't know how you're supposed to react.   So it could be a lot of things but it's best to talk it through with someone who could help you understand it all. 



^This completely.  (Imakcerka, I did edit out the middle part because I don't know you and I didn't know if you wanted personal info quoted.)  I'm a fairly guarded and cautious person as well but mine is more of an anxiety/rejection/perfectionist issue.  It's not that I don't FEEL emotion.  I'm cautious about feeling emotion too strongly and getting swept away and out of control with it so I try not to have ANY emotions.  I like to plaster my face with a smile and use the words "fine" a lot.  :)  I don't recommend that action.


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#13 of 14 Old 09-18-2013, 02:48 PM
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Hi there, I'm the exact same way.


Since I was a kid, I've never showed any expression, It's a struggle for me if I want to show any expression. My mum is the same way, It's been passed down in my family apparently..


For Example; If I'm really happy, on the inside I'll be crying tears of joy, but on the outside, I'm completely expressionless,  or so I've been told. 


It's not very common in people but, these things happen. 


If you want to try to show your expressions more, practice in the mirror for five minutes everyday. It could help. It's a method I'm starting use, so far it's been a struggle but it's worth it... hopefully.. 

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#14 of 14 Old 10-08-2013, 08:29 AM
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