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Question
Posted by: Lin | 2008/07/05

Husband unsensative

My husband and I am writing this together. We would like to know from you if he's "normal".
He seems to be very insensative to other people. He doesn't feel for people besides himself, me and our son. He feels nothing for their pain or suffering. Nothing at all. He doesn't show sympathy or empathy towards others.
His father commited suicide when he was 12 years old. His side of the family shows little emotion.
What got us wondering was that he went to the shops. When he was finished he got in the car. Just as he started it, he saw a +- 2 year old little boy standing outside the shop. The boy was alone, but not dressed as a streetchild. (We have a 2 year old)
He watched the child and then the child's parents came out and they walked away. He told me this now and we talked about it. His thoughts are that the parents are neglectful (I agree)I asked him what he would've done if nobody came to fetch the little boy. Hubby says he wouln't have done anything. He would've driven home.
The fact for me was that he seemed concerned enough to watch the boy until his parents came. But he says it's not his problem.
He doesn't get upset over wars, or murders, or rapes, ect. His only concern is that it shouln't happen to us.
Am I just overly sensative or is he unsensative?
Thanks for your time.
Lin and hubby

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Our expert says:
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Firstly, there's a difference between Feeling emotions, recognizing one's emotional felings, and Expressing them.
Some of us learn in chilly and emotionally unexpressive families, not to express one's emotions and to tend to ignore them when they arise. And some of us, after a very emotionally shockign experience earlier in life, such as a parent's suicide, can add to this effect if one shuts off the emotions that arise for fear of being unable to cope with them, like a fuse blowing, and protects oneself from stronger emotions. One may avoid allowing oneself to feel strong emotions in order to try to protect oneself from hurt, but it sadly also protects us from the heights of love and other good emotions. Psychotherapy can help someone recapture the ability to feel good felings, without becoming needlessly vulnerable.
Your hysband DOEs have good feelings --- he cared enough about the litle boy to watch over him for a time ; he doesn't want bad things to happen to his family. But these feelings are apparently muted to an extent that may not serve him well, which is where I would suggest he consider therapy to explore whether this might be worth his while.

The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.

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Our users say:
Posted by: anon | 2008/07/05

Hi Lin an Lin's hubby

Something you said made me wonder how much of this has to do with his father's suicide when hubby was 12yrs of age? Does hubby feel "insensitive" as you put it, perhaps having been exposed to such shock, pain and grief so young? How did his family deal with his father's death? Was he able to express his grief at the time. Could perhaps his side of the family appear to be "insensitive" as you put it due to perhaps distancing themselves or "de-sensatising" themselves.

There also is a saying unless you have walked a mile in my shoes, you cannot know how I feel.....

Some people perhaps may appear more sensitive than others. If its not a problem to him and only to you, then perhaps you are more sensitive than he is. If it becomes an issue in your relationship, it would concern you both.

Reply to anon
Posted by: Maria | 2008/07/05

Hi Lin and Lin's hubby. :)

I think the fact that you guys could write this message together shows that you have a very good relationship, and it took courage too.

Compassion is not something we are born with, it is something we are taught. Perhaps in hubby's family nobody modelled such behaviour so you were never exposed to it?

I have a question for you. If that was Justin in front of the shop, and someone else watching him, what would you have wanted that person to do?

There is an African proverb which says it takes a village to raise a child. I believe that many of the social ills in our country stems from the fact that families and communities are no longer involved with each other, nobody cares about their neighbours. If you live in emotional isolation, you cannot grow as a person. You have to give of yourself to other people, and get something of other people back in return.

Now I've gone of on a tangent without really answering your question. But I hope that my thoughts might give you something to think about.

Reply to Maria

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