Is Ataraxia A Personality Disorder?

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In this blog, we will be talking about Ataraxia Personality Disorder and will be covering the consequences of ataraxia, along with its characteristics and if there is a cure, and also answer frequently asked questions. 

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Is Ataraxia A Personality Disorder?

Yes, ataraxia can be associated with a personality disorder like a schizoid personality disorder (SPD). SPD is often associated with a condition where you don’t feel any emotions and people with SPD are also referred to as emotionless.

Imagine a day when you seem fulfilled. There are no anxieties, nothing that could stress you out or anger you. Nothing can frustrate you. You are simply sipping hot coffee and scrolling through the Netflix catalog over what to watch.

Imagine a life like that. No frustrations or tensions. You are relaxed and happy. Only you are not. Sorry to burst that wonderful dream bubble.

Never getting angry about something or someone and never feeling anxiety ever, can seem to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Perhaps people would look up to you for maintaining such a calm composure. But is this perspective really so rose-tinted in reality?

Unlikely.

We can imagine a person who never feels furious, but ataraxia is a disorder in which the inability to feel frustration or anger is one of the key symptoms.

What is Ataraxia?

Definition wise, Ataraxia is a condition in which a person is unable to feel emotions such as rage or frustration.

In other words, a person suffering from Ataraxia would be unable to feel anger at any point in his/her life.

We cannot misjudge this condition to be an individual’s ability to be resilient and calm during tough situations. It is more than that. In fact, it is the complete inability of the person to feel these emotions in dire circumstances forever.

To make things more comprehensive, we will give you an interesting example.

You are walking down the street after having a long hard day at college/office. You have just traveled an hour and a half through the metro, and now you need to catch an auto-rickshaw to get home.

Although it is not too late, you are walking down a secluded alley when suddenly you feel a couple of pairs of eyes looking at you. In response to this, you start walking quickly and at one point you are even running.

But your followers are successful in catching you. They cover your face in a jute bag and carry you while you struggle to get free. 

The car ride is silent. You can only hear your muffled cries. You reach someplace and the individuals drag you out of the car and lock you in a small dingy room.

You don’t know what will happen next, the kidnappers may kill you or ask for ransom. You are worried and you need to think of ways you can escape this situation altogether.

The anxiety you felt while reading the above instance is fundamental in a real situation like that. Your flight-or-fight response pattern depends on the arousal and that arousal is caused by stress from a stressor. 

If in a situation like this, you are unable to feel any negative emotions, your decision-making and cognitive processes are most likely going to get hampered.

In this situation, a person with ataraxia would be unable to experience anger or frustration. And hence, would not be able to make sound decisions or perhaps on a lighter note, would even scare the kidnappers with apathy.

This disease is caused by a dysfunction of the parts of the brain that are responsible for producing such emotions, like the amygdala.

What are the consequences of ataraxia?

Ataraxia is derived from the Greek word ataraxia, which means “lack of disturbance.”

This phrase was coined by Greek philosophers to describe a mental state that allows a person to lessen the intensity of their desires and passions, to have great strength in the face of hardship, and to achieve a whole balance that brings satisfaction.

As a result, Ataraxia is viewed as a personal trait that enables the acquisition of a permanent sense of tranquility, contentment, and imperturbability.

The idea of having consistent tranquility that allows you to never feel frustrated definitely seems like a positive attribute that a person may benefit from to live a happy life.

But not quite. When we talk about ataraxia from a medical standpoint, that is, when we talk about ataraxia as a medical illness, we are talking about the terrible repercussions of not being able to experience negative emotions. As crazy as that sounds, it is true. Negative emotions are vital to life. There is a reason why they exist in the first place.

From a psychological standpoint, ataraxia is an illness that prevents you from experiencing frustration rather than it being a positive quality/trait/attribute that helps you to be more resistant to anger, frustration, anxiety, or stress.

Fundamentally, the inability to be angry or frustrated is the key feature of ataraxia, which inhibits a person from growing as a person because he or she is incapable of learning the lessons from frustration that are quintessential to healthy emotional maturity.

Furthermore, the inability to become furious or frustrated in any situation has a significant impact on your personal relationships because you are not in the position to be able to make appropriate emotional behaviors that are congruent to what the situation demands.

As a result, the person with ataraxia loses his/her ability to discriminate, and they lose his ability to discern what should be changed to better things or what features they dislike.

Similarly, people with ataraxia are unaware of their limitations because they are unable to identify their flaws since they are unable to feel any emotion in response to their actions, and they are unable to understand the repercussions of their actions.

Characteristics of Ataraxia

These are the primary characteristics of medical ataraxia:

Tendency to passivity

Unfortunately, people with this disorder tend to lack the willingness to be the one to take initiative. They instead respond to the things happening in their surroundings.

Absence of the appearance of intense emotional states

Even in peak emergencies, they fail to experience any kind of anxiety, anger, or frustration.

Unusual emotional stability

Due to the above-mentioned facts, the emotional state of a person does not appear to be affected by the environment: it remains relatively constant.

Impossibility of frustration

If you were looking forward to a great test result since you had practiced hard, you are bound to feel disappointed if you don’t score as you expected. This emotion is lacking in people with ataraxia. In these cases, people may often misjudge them for their lack of any expected emotion like sadness in a case like this and may make false judgments about them.

Disappearance of guilt

At least from a moral and social standpoint, it is one of the most noteworthy outcomes of ataraxia caused by injuries to the brain. Medical ataraxia is a condition in which a person does not feel impacted by negative things that happen to them. This also involves a lack of emotion when they hurt someone. Either they don’t feel any remorse, or they do not recognize the remorse since they cannot feel their emotions.

Can ataraxia be cured?

Ataraxia currently has no cure or treatment. In fact, because there are so few cases of people suffering from this form of brain damage and issues, there has not been a lot of research in this area, and hence very little is known about it.

People with ataraxia aren’t able to feel anger and frustration and they can often be taken advantage of by their serene and calm nature. 

Conclusion

We discussed what ataraxia is, the consequences of having ataraxia, characteristics of ataraxia, and treatment/cure of ataraxia. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Is Ataraxia A Personality Disorder?

How do you develop ataraxia?

Epicurus believes that the most joyful existence is one in which we avoid superfluous cravings and acquire inner tranquility (ataraxia) by being content with simple things and prioritizing philosophical dialogue with companions over bodily pleasures such as food, drink, and sex.

What are ataraxia and Aponia?

Those who have acquired physical tranquility are said to be in a state of aponia, while those who have achieved mental tranquility are said to be in a state of ataraxia.

Is pleasure the absence of pain?

Pleasure, according to the Epicureans, is defined as the absence of pain (mental and bodily), and so pleasure may only rise until the pain is no longer present. Pleasure cannot be increased beyond this point, and one cannot reasonably seek bodily pleasure beyond aponia.

What is the stoic argument for the tranquility of mind?

Epictetus and other stoics believe that in this rational existence, tranquility should be our primary goal. They argue that the only way to happiness is to be reasonable and peaceful. According to the Stoics, becoming peaceful requires a significant amount of effort and payment.

Is ataraxia a good thing?

The Epicurean view of the highest good includes ataraxia as a crucial component. Epicureans place a high priority on ataraxia because of their understanding of pleasure. The highest good, according to Epicureans, is a pleasure. They divide pleasure into two categories: physical and cerebral pleasure.

However, speaking from a medical standpoint, ataraxia (inability to feel anger, frustration, anxiety) is not necessarily good since it becomes a hurdle during emergency and important situations.

How did the Pyrrhonic skeptics define ataraxia?

The Pyrrhonists believe that it is one’s beliefs regarding non-evident topics (i.e. dogma) that keep one from achieving eudaimonia. Pyrrhonism, like Epicureanism, views the attainment of ataraxia (a condition of equanimity) as the path to eudaimonia.

References

Ataraxia | Psychology Wiki | Fandom. (2020). Psychology Wiki. Ataraxia: when there is nothing that affects us emotionally. (2022). Yes, Therapy Helps! https://en.yestherapyhelps.com/ataraxia-when-there-is-nothing-that-affects-us-emotionally-11475

Depression, Ataraxia, and the Pig. (2020). Taylor & Francis. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00048402.2021.2005106

Z. (2021, December 16). Ataraxia: The Inability to Experiment Anger. ITS PSYCHOLOGY. https://itspsychology.com/ataraxia/

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