One of the most interesting philosophical concepts that the ancient Greeks left us is that of ataraxia, although this idea is also present in Buddhism. Another very different thing is medical ataraxia, caused by a brain injury. We bring you the meaning of both concepts.
Ataraxia can be defined as a state of mind, although rather we speak of the absence of them . It is also strictly related to frustration, an uncomfortable feeling that, despite everything, allows us to learn from our mistakes and evolve as people.
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What is ataraxia according to philosophy?
The concept was proposed by three philosophical movements: Epicureanism, Stoicism and skepticism, and defines the decrease in the intensity of desire in a subject . Therefore, it can be a mood disposition, whose purpose is the happiness of the individual.
1. According to Epicureanism
According to Epicurus, there are two kinds of desires : those that are natural and necessary (such as food and sex), and therefore are related to human survival; and the pleasures that are not necessary and take us away from spiritual tranquility, such as eating properly or dressing well.
For this philosophical current, the path to peace and serenity of spirit begins by knowing how to discern between these two types of pleasures. The individual must move away from everything that is vain and focus on the most basic aspects, although not to the extremes proposed by Diogenes of Sinope.
2. According to Stoicism
For the Stoics, the main path to happiness is also ataraxia or the absence of disorders that disturb the soul. To achieve this goal, man must differentiate between things that depend on oneself and those that do not . On the other hand, it is also necessary to forget the fears of the gods and death, a task that is not easy.
3. According to skepticism
For this third current of thinkers, any truth is subjective. The skeptics promulgate the suspension of judgment (believe in nothing) , and therefore do not come into conflict with anyone and do not generate frustration. However, this skepticism is one of the most difficult ideas to put into practice.
4. According to Buddhism
Another concept related to ataraxia is Buddhist nirvana, a state of supreme well-being based on the total absence of pain and desire. To achieve nirvana, we must eliminate from our thinking any desire that provokes fear or hope , which includes the desire to live or die. For Buddhists, happiness is achieved through virtue, charity, humility and resignation.
5. According to Hinduism
Other religions such as Hinduism introduce the term “equanimity”, a state of psychological composure that is not disturbed by experiences or emotions . This equanimity is present in yoga writings as one of the four sublime attitudes, along with loving-kindness, compassion, and joy.
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What is medical ataraxia
From a psychiatric point of view, ataraxia defines a disorder caused by damage to the brain , either due to an accident or a stroke. Although people with ataraxia are free from any frustration, the idea is no longer so attractive, and it has serious consequences for the quality of life of those who suffer from it.
Characteristics of people with medical ataraxia
Below we review the most characteristic psychological traits of people who suffer from medical ataraxia.
1. Emotional stability
Many people may see this as something positive, but it is not at all. Total emotional stability entails the absence of experiencing emotions, both positive and negative. Therefore, they are impassive in any situation, no matter how extreme . This poses a risk to their survival, and we need sensations such as danger or frustration.
2. Disappearance of the feeling of guilt
This is perhaps one of the characteristics that will most incapacitate the individual for his normal adaptation in society. The person with medical ataraxia will not have a logical reaction when seeing how her actions can harm others , which can be confused with aversion towards someone.
People with this ailment will seldom take the initiative and will simply respond to certain stimuli in their environment like an automaton. Ultimately, it will affect their ability to communicate and their emotional ties.