Emotional numbing is the mental and emotional process of shutting out feelings which will be experienced as deficits of emotional response and reactivity by the individual. It shuts down both positive and negative emotions which stand as a hindrance for the individual to experience his environment. As we could say “Human being – Emotions = Machine.“ It is a sort of detachment towards feelings of and emotions which is developed into a sort of coping tool to cope emotional and physical pain. It protects oneself from psychological hurt through remaining indifferent to feelings and emotions.
The major problem they face is the inability to connect with people and environment. Human being- Emotions = Machine: effect prevails. A sort of meaninglessness and hollowness prevails. So we need to reconnect the individual concerned with feelings, emotions and to his environment. It reminds us the famous film “Enthiran” in which even the robot becomes a human like element through adding the ability to feel emotions.
This process of reconnecting with nature and people can easily be done through studying literature. There comes the common mistake that we make every day. Instead of studying literature, we need to live with it and feel with it. Poetry mostly helps one to reconnect with nature. Help the individual to talk about the beauty of nature and explain how beautiful the world looks like! The same can be applied with poems that are melancholic in nature. Let him feel the sadness too through explaining the mood of the poet or the character. A feeling of being one with the poet or concerned character will be developed within the individual. The poems which contain different moods and tone can be used. Adding relevant musical background can enhance the effect. Let him cry, laugh or get angry in the world of imagination. This effect can hopefully be transferred to real life.
The same can be done through stories, novels or films. Let the individual live with the character and feel the emotions of the character. The individual may not feel the emotions as it is his own at the beginning. But gradually as he moves with the character in the story he start to feel it. The emotional situations and moral dilemma in stories are exercises for the brain which may even change the physiology of the limbic system. They become more sensitive towards human beings and gains insight into the nature of human behaviour.
Activities like writing the appreciation of the poem, listing out the feelings of the character, writing an activity like “What I may do if I am in the place of that character?” etc. can be given. Let them write it in their own language.
Doubtlessly we could say that literature is the most humanistic tool that can be applied to combat emotional numbing.