Meaning of Anhedonia


Anhedonia, a notion that comes from the French word anhédonie, is a term used in the field of psychology to refer to the lack of ability to experience pleasure. Anhedonia, in this way, is associated with the lack of satisfaction in the activities that are carried out.

We have to establish that anhedonia is a neologism that was coined in the last bars of the 19th century, specifically in the year 1896, by the French psychologist Théodule A. Ribot. More exactly he used it for the first time in his work entitled “Psychology of feelings.”

That shaped it using certain components of the Greek such as:
-The prefix “an-“, which can be used to indicate negation.
-The noun “hedoné”, which can be translated as “pleasure”.
-The suffix “-ia”, which is used to establish a quality.

According to DigoPaul, anhedonia can be said to be a classic symptom of depression: a person no longer finds positive elements in actions that are generally pleasurable. Beyond depression, anhedonia also appears in schizoid personality disorder and in certain types of dementia.

There are several causes that can cause anhedonia in a person. These include from depression to drugs, schizophrenia or even the fact that the brain interrupts the production of dopamine, which is responsible for the human being to have pleasant sensations.

In order to diagnose anhedonia, it must be established that there is what has been called Chapman’s scales. There are two types of questionnaires that come to diagnose this disorder and even the degree of it or the causes that may be generating it.

We can determine that these scales are based on questions related to the individual’s abilities to have satisfaction at a social level, the possibility of suffering from schizophrenia or depression…

It should also be noted that there is no single treatment for anhedonia. Specifically, based on the causes that have originated it, the psychologist will proceed to determine one or the other.

Experts often distinguish between two phases of anhedonia. That linked to dissatisfaction with the result of an action (that is, to the enjoyment it brings) is called the consummated anhedonia. The motivational anhedonia, meanwhile, is associated with lack of motivation to develop the action in question.

It is also possible to differentiate between physical anhedonia and social anhedonia. Physical anhedonia arises from the lack of pleasure in the face of typical physical stimuli: the individual does not enjoy sexual relations or food, for example. Social anhedonia, on the other hand, is related to the absence of enjoyment in ties with other people, as in a conversation.

Anhedonia, in short, is due to a lack of reaction or response of the subject to positive stimuli. The human being blocks the normal reception of these stimuli and, in this way, does not manage to feel the pleasure that they should provide him and that, even, previously he experienced.