A word for the emotion you don't feel?
January 23, 2008 7:36 PM   Subscribe

Is there a word for: expecting to feel grief or ache of conscience and then not feeling it?

Synonyms for "numbness," "relief," and "surprise" aren't what I'm looking for; I need something specific. Example: In "Crimes & Misdemeanors," when the wealthy man reflects on how rapidly he was able to recover after having his mistress murdered.

Not limited to English ... a word from any language would be appreciated.

Thank you so much!
posted by coizero to Human Relations (22 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Apathy, perhaps?
posted by ~Sushma~ at 7:57 PM on January 23, 2008


posted by brandz at 8:07 PM on January 23, 2008

(unexpectedly) unaffected?
posted by pmbuko at 8:12 PM on January 23, 2008

You're looking for a complicated word like ennui? I would have to think one of the symbolic languages are the only ones that would have such a "word".

Although the germans do enjoy shoving together 15 smaller words into one giant word. So you might be able to just make the word you're talking about. My favorite is (horribly misspelled) dingelieblingfreitzietbedungen. Literally, things I love in my free time to do.
posted by gjc at 8:16 PM on January 23, 2008

posted by mr. remy at 8:21 PM on January 23, 2008

Relieved, free, emancipated, beyondgoodandevil.
posted by alms at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2008

posted by frobozz at 8:37 PM on January 23, 2008

I don't think there is a specific word for this. Seems close to "lack of remorse" but I don't think there's a single word for that either. Callous? Seems that asking for a word that also implies that remorse was expected is a bit much. At least for English. But it is a terribly limited language, and unfortunately I don't know any other well enough.
posted by catatethebird at 8:39 PM on January 23, 2008

posted by Falling_Saint at 8:47 PM on January 23, 2008

posted by rhizome at 9:37 PM on January 23, 2008

unmoved & analogues

In the specific case you're thinking of the external descriptor might be "callous", but from his point of view perhaps "indifferent" or "impenitent" is closer. If a series of events has removed feeling, one can be "inured" (wasn't that an AskMe already?). In general one can be "dispassionate", but that tends to mean nothing affects you. If a habit, and expressed, it could be insouciance. More generally, and reflecting positive traits, there are words in the range of aplomb.

As for a specific word or phrase expressing relief at not experiencing guilt, I don't know that you're going to get closer than sang-froid. Something like an eerie calm, except for human emotion. The killing smile.
posted by dhartung at 9:56 PM on January 23, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:27 PM on January 23, 2008

on preview: dhartung got there first.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:29 PM on January 23, 2008

Now, "insensible" can be a good word, because you can't make yourself "insensible" - you just find yourself insensible to x or y. So you could find yourself insensible to guilt, even though you had expected to feel guilty.
posted by blue_wardrobe at 10:32 PM on January 23, 2008

"Stoic", perhaps? My dictionary gives it as "One who is seemingly indifferent to or unaffected by joy, grief, pleasure, or pain." Of course, that might be interpreted more as a general quality, rather than a feeling experienced in a specific situation, which seems to be what you're driving at.

"Detached" is also good.
posted by Rhaomi at 10:32 PM on January 23, 2008

Stolid would probably be better than stoic to describe it. Stolid means one is apathetic, lacks energy or emotion about something. It's used like stoic, but I think it better fits as a reaction beyond ones control than stoic. It has negative connotations, so it isn't postive. "Stoic," on the other hand, often describes brave, strong characters unaffected by the chaos and hardship surrounding them.
posted by mccarty.tim at 10:53 PM on January 23, 2008

I can think of no word that describes exactly what you mentioned. Perhaps we should invent one. Sansvexation?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:11 PM on January 23, 2008

posted by Solomon at 1:47 AM on January 24, 2008

posted by buka at 6:25 AM on January 24, 2008

posted by kristin at 7:58 AM on January 24, 2008

posted by lubujackson at 10:07 AM on January 24, 2008

Guilt or relief, depending...
posted by MiffyCLB at 2:22 PM on January 24, 2008

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