I've looked at this question but it doesn't quite match the term I'm seeking.

I once heard a speaker use a term to describe the syndrome accompanied with drug dependencies. He said the word and then asked if anyone knew what it meant. His personal interpretation of the meaning of the word was something like, "...the feeling that the world could fall apart around me and I wouldn't care so long as I have my fix." He went on to give other examples such as, "...I don't care how the bills get paid, I need my (insert drug of choice)."

I'm trying to find what the word is for this. Apathetic and indifferent are not it.(though apathetic is close)

It's not just emotional, or physical, or psychological... it's all of these. Basically, almost like a catatonic state of being. Also, and I don't know if this helps anyone other than me, if you can imagine Eeyore from Winnie the Pooh saying, "In the long run, we all die. What would be the point of living? Why do anything when it all ends the same way?"

The way this term could be used in a sentence would be,

It's pointless talking to Mark right now, he's fallen victim to/to his ______

Update: Okay, I found this from submissivesuccubus.blogspot.com (don't ask), "When the three of us are together, I feel as if the world could fall apart around me and I wouldn't care at all."

Now this example has a positive connotation to it. I'm looking for the negative.

Last Update:
Okay, one more example before I give into nihilism. If I'm sitting at my house, normal night, watching TV, and then a tow truck pulls up and begins to tow my car. I notice, but don't care or do anything about it. Then the phone rings, I don't answer because I don't care. The power goes out, I don't do anything. I sit in the dark now staring at the wall. An earthquake occurs, I don't move. The house falls apart around me. I still sit in the rubble. I don't care. Bulldozers plow away the debris around me. Winter sets in. WWIII, zombie apocalypse, a black hole swallows the Earth and I don't move, don't care.
I've lost something. Something that makes me pay the power bills, something that makes me get up and hide from zombies... I am/ have become/ have __________ If you tell me that nihilism works for this, than I will concede to it (though it's not the word I was looking for) You all are AWESOME-sauce in my book and I appreciate the efforts.

Source: Dictionary.com

  • 1
    "What's up with Dave? He's been lying on the couch for three days. He won't talk to me. I don't think I've even seen him eat." "Forget it, man, he's checked out."
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:34
  • It's a little more of a 'technical' term. Thanks though.
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:35
  • Insouciant? Nonchalant? Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:38
  • 1
    what about ennui ...
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:32
  • 4
    Nihilism as a philosophy is very far away from your original description. Nihilism as a once (still?) over-used fashion term was once of the "philosophies" of punk. And now it means something "close to apathy"? Camus is turning in his grave...
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 17:06

14 Answers 14


Since you're asking in a psychological context, are you looking for one of:

Detachment (detached)

Dissociation (dissociated)

Depersonalization (depersonalized)

Emotional numbness (numb)

Based on the updated question, perhaps you're looking for:

Nihilism (nihilistic): Nihilism is often discussed in terms of extreme skepticism and relativism; for most of the 20th century it has been associated with the belief that life is meaningless. Existential nihilism begins with the notion that the world is without meaning or purpose. Given this circumstance, existence itself–all action, suffering, and feeling–is ultimately senseless and empty.

From the Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Nihilism, though there are plenty of other choices (e.g. Wikipedia).

  • It's something more along the lines of all of these things... see my edit.
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:01
  • If you mean "the utter pointlessness of being", are you looking for "nihilistic"?
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:06
  • More like the nihilistic of EVERYTHING... not just societal beliefs and ethics etc. But nothing is worth anything.
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:09
  • Yeah, that's nihilism. Nihilism is the absolute rejection of everything.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:10
  • 1
    A philosophy just means "a way of seeing the world" or "a way of framing reality". It's not restricted to tweeded professors arguing over Wittgenstein: everyone subscribes to a philosophy, (even if he doesn't know it), and those philosophies can be used as descriptors: "Man, Joe is a real nihilist", "Ever since his mom died, Dave has been in a nihilistic funk ", etc.
    – Dan Bron
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:54

The most proper word would be:


n [U] [Date: 1800-1900; Language: German; Origin: nihilismus, from Latin nihil 'nothing']//
1 the belief that nothing has any meaning or value:
2 the idea that all social and political institutions should be destroyed

  • Can you please site your source? When I looked for the definition, I only found entries that are tied to politics/societal views and ethics and such... can this be used in a broad, generalized way? "It's no use talking to him, Mark has fallen victim to nihilism"?
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:14
  • 1
    it's very commonly used in a broad generalised way. simply google for written uses. "teenage nihilism..."
    – Fattie
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:32
  • Reference material copied from elsewhere (which this appears to be, given that it's quote-formatted) must have a citation in plain-text indicating its origin. Please add one, or this answer may be removed.
    – Andrew Leach
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 6:20

The condition you are describing is ennui, "a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom" (dictionary.com). Ennui is boredom on steroids, dissatisfaction taken to an existential level. Oddly, the Oxford English Dictionary reports that ennui can be used as a transitive verb as well—"to affect with ennui; to bore, weary"—although all of its examples are from the 19th century. The adjectival form ennuying is also listed, but described as "rare."


This sounds like the condition known as anhedonia. The term is more common in medical / psych settings but you do hear it elsewhere.

  • YES!!!! Excellent!!!! But it's not just pleasure that cannot be experienced... I do think either this or nihilism was the word the speaker used... I wish I could mark multiple answers...
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 15:16

I'd never seen this splendid word until today, but I feel compelled to bring it to the public's attention:

From Merriam-Webster:

pococurante - adjective \ˈpō-kō-kyu̇-ˈran-tē meaning indifferent, nonchalant. From the Italian for "caring little"

It may have found its origin, capitalised, as a character in Voltaire's Candide.

There's a lovely non-capitalised usage in an essay on Lord Melbourne, by Abraham Hayward, published in 1858.

… during many years he apparently led a careless, indolent, pococurante life, divided between the gay circles of London and the House of Commons.

  • 2
    It seems to have a more positive connotation than what the OP describes, though. More like happy-go-lucky.
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:43
  • Just added a link to M-W online definition Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:45
  • I don't know how to explain why, but there's something amiss about this word. Though, EXCELLENT word find!!!! Nonchalant and indifferent really don't get the explicit tone/connotation that comes with the word I'm looking for. +1 for the find!
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:05

Lethargic comes to mind.

Merriam-Webster says:

2 : indifferent, apathetic

So it encapsulates both of the ones you mentioned, but the first description is:

1 : of, relating to, or characterized by laziness or lack of energy : feeling or affected by lethargy : sluggish

The lack of energy, laziness, seems to relate to the drug dependency you describe.

  • Lethargic seems to have a physical connotation to it though, and that would only encompass part of the effect. It's also a very mental effect/attitude. And keep in mind, the drug dependency example is just one of many examples. This term is not directly dependent on drug use. I would almost venture to say that lethargy is a side-effect of the word I'm looking for.
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 13:51
  • 1
    Well, laziness is usually rather mental than physical (tiredness being the physical version), so I think the description does encapsulate both mental and physical effects... But I am puzzled and hoping to be surprised by the word you are looking :)
    – oerkelens
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:01

I guess alienated may convey the idea of feeling lost and indifferent to life that you describe:

  • withdrawn or unresponsive; isolated or dissociated emotionally.

Feeling of Alienation in Recovery:

  • Addicts will often describe themselves as being outsiders in society. Even before they tuned to substance abuse they may have experienced discomfort around other people – a feeling that they just did not fit in.

You may be referring also to a feeling of self-destruction as a consequente of drag abuse:


    1. Tending to do harm to oneself.
    2. Marked by an impulse or tendency to harm or kill oneself.
  • Yes, but again remember this term is not confined to the use case of drug use. It's a more generalized (yet specific, and yes I know that sounds like an oxymoron) term. And it's not just a societal withdrawl.
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:03

Surprisingly to me, no one has mentioned feckless. While it has connotations of being ineffectual, which the person in your question is even if by accident, the origin of it is a Scottish word feck, meaning "effect, vigor, value" -- three things your hypothetical despondent character lacks. The dictionary entry for it also supports this usage:

  1. Lacking purpose or vitality
  2. Careless and irresponsible

In light of your recent edit(and apart from my previous suggestions)-

Update: It's not just emotional, or physical, or psychological... it's all of these. Basically almost like a catatonic state of being. Also, and I don't know if this helps anyone other than me, if you can imagine Ior from Winnie the Poo saying, "In the long run, we all die. What would be the point of living? Why do anything when it all ends the same way?"

I would recommend: despondent

According to Merriam-Webster:

despondent adjective

very sad and without hope

Like the usage of despondent here:

  • Writers who spend much time in universities are likely to grow despondent over the future of literature, for there it is treated as a finished thing. —Louis Simpson, New York Times Book Review, 21 Nov. l982
  • Yes but no, this word, like despair, is tied to emotion. The term I'm looking for is not... I really wish I could explain it better. I feel that I'm at fault for not properly being able to explain. Again thank you for your efforts!
    – MegaMark
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 14:11

Consider the terms affectless (Collins: “showing no emotion or concern for others; not giving rise to any emotion or feeling”) and anomie (Wiktionary: “Alienation or social instability caused by erosion of standards and values”).

Affect is a psychological term referring to experience of feeling and emotion. An affectless person, or one with flat affect or blunted affect does not react normally in emotional situations.

According to thefreedictionary.com, flat affect is

the absence or near absence of emotional response to a situation that normally elicits emotion. It is observed in schizophrenia and some depressive disorders.

According to wikipedia, blunted affect

is the clinical term describing a lack of emotional reactivity (affect display) on the part of an individual. It manifests as a failure to express feelings either verbally or non-verbally, especially when talking about issues that would normally be expected to engage the emotions.



  • lethargy
  • exhaustion
  • weary


  • purposeless
  • aimless
  • disinterested


  • stoic: a person who accepts what happens without complaining or showing emotion (Merriam-Webster)
  • depressed (Depression is both common and sensitive, so understand it and use it considerately.)
  • dispassionate
  • melancholic


  • hollow
  • soulless
  • vacant
  • bereft


  • neglectful
  • single-minded


  • catatonic 2 : characterized by a marked lack of movement, activity, or expression (Merriam-Webster)
  • impassive
  • neutral
  • inert
  • torpid: having or showing very little energy or movement : not active

    a : having lost motion or the power of exertion or feeling : dormant, numb

    b : sluggish in functioning or acting

    2 : lacking in energy or vigor : apathetic, dull



I would say:

  • ignorance
  • indolence
  • 1
    Why? Please review the guidelines on how to provide useful answers in the help center.
    – choster
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 2:07

What about the word apathetic? It certainly pertains, but it doesn't really capture the importance of the fix since someone who was apathetic could be expected not to care about the fix either.

  • 1
    Apathetic is specifically mentioned as being not the word.
    – ErikE
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 4:26

most of the discussion here is centered around the negative connotations - there could also be equivalents on the Zen side i.e. unperturbed state in the face of adversity.

Not entirely sure if it classifies here but my teacher used to mention ATARAXIA to indicate serenity.

According to the website, www.john-uebersax.com, ATARAXIA pertains to "imperturbability, freedom from disturbance, equipoise, tranquility"

Merriam Webster describes it as "calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet "


  • 1
    You should check some reliable resources and mentioning them in your answer rather than referring to what just your teacher said.
    – Neeku
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 13:31
  • Fair enough, Neeku. My apologies for that. According to the website, www.john-uebersax.com, ATARAXIA pertains to "imperturbability, freedom from disturbance, equipoise, tranquility" Merriam Webster describes it as "calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet " john-uebersax.com/plato/words/ataraxia.htm
    – Viquar
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 15:58
  • @Viqar my comment was to help you improve your answer. You should edit your post and add the info there to make it a better answer.
    – Neeku
    Commented Aug 18, 2014 at 15:59

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.