Lack of pleasure

The inability to feel joy

Hedonism, a word taken from the ancient Greek (hedonia), means pleasure,

and anhedonia means lack of pleasure.

Anhedonia is present in many mental disorders, and is pronounced in schizophrenics.

Anhedonia may also occur in schizoid types, where it manifests as an inability to experience pleasure in life.

This may be general, or pleasure may be experienced in certain limited situations.

If you're at a party, you'll notice how people become childish,

 and all do the same things: compete, dance, eat, play, parade ....

 They are enjoying themselves.

They laugh, and you can see that they are happy. To you, though, all of this seems ridiculous and, of course,

it does not make you happy, neither can you find any charm in it. You neither enjoy it, nor do you feel any pleasure.

The same experience is repeated at weddings, business meals ....

Encounters with friends or family and Christmas celebrations deserve special mention.

 While the people enjoy the company ....

you not only do not enjoy it but these encounters become a problem for you.

There are other harmless things -  routine activities like eating, painting, wearing brand-new shoes for the first time,

 cooking, buying something, going for a walk .... about which many people say : "What a great time I had!"

But we do not find pleasure in them. Or, if we do, it is minimal, and restricted to specific activities.


Of all the forms of anhedonia (lack of pleasure),
the one most characteristic of the schizoid, is his social anhedonia.

The mobile phones that most of us carry with us constantly
have been a huge success.
This is because human beings enjoy talking with other
human beings, especially with family and friends.

The best times of our lives have been spent in the company of others …
at parties, on vacations, at weddings,
family gatherings or Christmas dinners ...
Of all the pleasures in life, the best, or at least one of the best,
is to be in the company of friends.
This makes us feel good, inspires us, and makes life worth living.

When we are sad and everything seems gloomy, conversation
is the best way to lift our waning spirits.
If you have become depressed, in addition to taking antidepressants, you have to
become more active but, having someone to talk to is even better.

And, if you are overwhelmed by obsessive thoughts, the best way to combat them is through conversation.

Here, though, we're talking about the schizoid’s lack of pleasure in conversation, about his social anhedonia.
Where others enjoy widespread conversations,
he does not. If conditions are not favourable, he becomes bored and starts to feel bad.
Sometimes he may even feel anxiety.
There may be a small number of people with whom he can relate.
But feelings of pleasure, joy, and laughter shared ...  will be difficult.
Certainly, the schizoid suffers from anhedonia. But, primarily, he suffers from social anhedonia.
And man, after all, is a social being ...

 Anhedonia  and me

The place I enjoy most is my room, and being there on my own. There I can read, relax, learn…

These are intellectual pleasures and, at least, I feel these.

I seldom enjoy any dealings with people.  I also enjoy walking in the forest,

 the country, or the mountains.

I don’t enjoy music. I have never considered going to a concert. I don’t buy music. I don’t listen to music.

I don’t read novels, or any particular author,

I don’t have a preferred genre or narrative. And I find no reason to read novels

 invented by someone.  I don’t know how to dance. I never learnt. I have never danced.

I don’t enjoy parties - whether popular, official, or private.  I never attended any youth meetings.  I don’t value

 public shows. As an exception, from time to time,
 I may follow a sporting event on TV.  Chatting, even with relatives, gives me no pleasure. In fact,

it does exactly the opposite.

Going to pubs or cafes is truly torture for me. I flee as soon as I can.  Going on ‘a jaunt’ with friends…:

 I don’t enjoy at all, and I really feel uncomfortable. Besides, I don’t have any friends.  Alcohol neither perks me up,

nor cheers me up. It merely makes me groggy. My libido was low and my sexual life minimal.

No-one has ever seen my teeth… I’m never in the mood for laughing.  I avoid attending family celebrations because

I feel uncomfortable there. I don’t know which was the happiest day of my life.. To be honest,

 there have been no happy days in my life.




Anhedonia quotations (translated into English) taken from "Steppenwolf"

by Hermann Hesse.


 I cannot spend a lot of time in the cinema…

I can barely tolerate reading a newspaper…

 I cannot understand the kind of joy and pleasure that people seek in hotels, trains, cafes,

bars, sport events, at the races ….. or listening to annoying music


If the world is right I am the steppenwolf in a world that I find completely strange.




When you look at the people around you, how often are you surprised

 at their enjoyment of the seemingly inane?

The meaningless laughter; long and tedious conversations about nothing…; doing ridiculous things…

As a schizoid, you have to understand that your world is cold, rational…,

 while these others have a personality trait that makes their world different.

They are more emotional, and so they enjoy life more.

It is entirely normal for others to partake in these activities because they find pleasure in them.


--- Going to the cinema with someone, sitting on an armchair with a box of popcorn box

 and watching the movie. Eventually, for these people, merely the smell of popcorn

 is sufficient to evoke pleasant memories and provide pleasure.

---Just being with brothers, cousins, children of cousins, etc. is pleasurable.

For them, there is pleasure in togetherness - watching, listening.

They feel a sense of belonging - “these are mine”.

--- Also the time they spend with dogs - watching how they play;

---Walking down the street holding hands with someone,

clutching their hand and feeling the warmth of their grasp.

--- Excursions to the sea or mountains.

--- Listening to opera.

--- Coming home tired and taking a shower.

--- Milky, morning coffee at the local coffee shop.

--- Good food.

--- Eating a pizza on the couch at home, watching a movie on TV while it rains outside…

--- Cooking.


These simple things are full of emotion and pleasure.

And so are those who find joy in them.



Page updated in June 2013  .  Copyright (c)