Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Michelle Sicignano, LMSW

Social Justice Solutions | Staff Writer
Twitter Facebook web

The Illusion of Apathy

This post is a continuation of my previous couple of posts regarding apathy, living more satisfying lives, and embracing our more authentic selves so that we may enhance both our individual journey toward fulfilling our unique human potential as well as accept and participate more fully in the larger world. To quote Sigmund Freud, “To be completely honest with oneself is the very best effort a human being can make.”

Abraham Maslow, In the Need to Know and the Fear of Knowing, explains that fear of knowing, of knowledge, is most often an internal fear of knowing oneself concurrent with an external fear of knowing the outside world. Fear holds us back, both from knowing ourselves and becoming, to borrow from Virginia Satir, more fully human. If we are afraid to know and acknowledge ourselves, how can we begin to face or address the broader issues causing suffering in the larger human condition? This defensive, self-protective fear based apathy is sometimes needed to help maintain a world view that blinds us to our own unpleasant feelings and helps protect our self-esteem. Our images, both those we project out to the world and those we seek to maintain of the world and our communities large and small, are our masks, but they are also our shields. We need them to keep dangerous feelings from potentially over-whelming us. They are, in a very real way, a defense mechanism, which by definition exists to protect our egos from intolerable anxiety. We avoid becoming consciously aware of unpleasant and dangerous truths to protect ourselves.

As social workers, clinical and otherwise, a large part of our job is getting people to see and accept the truth more clearly and working through the natural resistance which comes from such an anxiety producing action. We lend ego-support and help build skills and capacities so our clients can face their lives, bear the truth, and take ownership of their rightful place in the world, and it is a (necessary) part of practice on the micro, mezzo, and macro level.  Apathy is only easier on the surface. It allows us to hide from our fears, both internally and externally, but hiding from a thing does not lessen its impact upon us.

Our authors want to hear from you! Click to leave a comment

Related Posts

Subscribe to the SJS Weekly Newsletter


  1. Michael Serene October 7, 2012
  2. Michelle Sicignano LMSW October 7, 2012
  3. Michael Serene October 7, 2012
  4. Michelle Sicignano LMSW October 7, 2012
  5. Michael Serene October 7, 2012
  6. Michelle Sicignano, LMSW October 8, 2012
  7. Michael Serene October 8, 2012
  8. Michelle Sicignano, LMSW October 8, 2012
  9. Michael Serene October 8, 2012

Leave a Reply