It’s possible for an entire culture to develop shared forms of mental disturbance. As socially shared pathologies increase, they can be difficult to recognize; they become the norm. Such is the case today, and a prime example is what I call our national Empathy Deficit Disorder, or EDD.
I made the name up, so don’t go looking for it in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Actually, I’m hesitant to suggest a new disorder, given that our mental health professions increasingly define normal variations of mood and temperament as new “disorders” (for which Big Pharma is ready to supply “treatments”). But this one’s real. It’s become pervasive throughout our increasingly polarized social and political culture of the past several years.
EDD has profound consequences for the mental health of individuals and society. Yet it’s ignored as a psychological disturbance by most of my colleagues in the mental health professions, largely because it’s become the norm throughout our emotional attitudes, public policies and behavior.