• Apollo

Power of detachment – Utilizing emotional analysis in the day-to-day

The central organ of the nervous system

The brains of humans are far more powerful than what most of us realize. Think about it – even the symptoms of major depressive disorder (or “depression” in the vernacular), occur mostly due to the biochemical changes in the brain. This means that our brains are so immensely powerful and complex organic devices that some of us do not have full control over them.

Now, knowing that some of us justifiably cannot control our thought process with ruthless order, we should consider the following: What can we truly control?

Taking back control

I stumbled upon this question myself some time ago, reading about the useful tool of willful dissociation, or being able to carry out an emotional detachment to process the events happening around you more objectively. I decided to try this out as I’ve always considered myself to experience bouts of an intensely short temper. Such instances were connected to events where I felt I had been treated harshly without reasoning – my emotional response was usually to become visibly sulky and on the inside sad and ultimately even vengeful.

I decided to test my ability to control this negative feeling by trying to dissociate from the emotion as much as I could immediately after experiencing such an event: One uneventful morning, I was going through my daily commute to work: A mundane routine of entering the bus, showing the bus driver my season ticket on my mobile phone and then finding a seat after. Once I had passed the bus driver after holding out my phone in clear view for him, he shouted something angrily at me, and I couldn’t quite understand him at first because I was listening to music on my headphones. I instinctively went back and showed him to my ticket to which he mumbled something and gestured angrily for me to move forward. I was fuming about this experience as I had completed my bus entering routine completely correctly just like any day, and yet I got shouted at. But as I arrived at my seat, I decided that this was a prime opportunity to try to test emotional detachment.

I started playing back the events from where I got on the bus and remembered that I had been doing something else on my phone just before switching to the bus ticket app. That reminded me of the poor function of the app and led me to an initial cue: The bus ticket app tends to show a white loading screen for a few seconds before displaying the ticket if you switch to it from a different app. I tested it immediately on my phone and to confirm my initial suspicion, the delay was indeed there. Thus, the bus driver only saw me displaying a white screen and wanted confirmation of my ticket. He most likely raised his voice seeing that I was wearing headphones, which was probably a smart call from him. Thinking back, his vague mumbling seemed to be a statement along the lines of “I couldn’t see your ticket” rather than just angry nondescript grumbling. So, he had a valid reason to act that way, although his reaction might have been exacerbated by something like a bad morning.

This analytical process took me less than two minutes and it confirmed one thing: People are only human, and they usually act out in response. You can’t control them, but you can always try to control yourself. The ability to stay calm and analytical is immensely powerful. Anger clouds judgement and sadness paints the world in black. If you can stay as objective as possible, you might just be able to pin down and take care of your problem much more effectively that way.

Key takeaways: avoid wrong conclusions

The realization of having potential power over your emotions does not mean that all people do. This does not mean that you can go to a person diagnosed with depression and blurt out, “just detach your thinking from it all”. Processing your emotions is a tough skill to be learned over years or perhaps even decades.

The thoughts of the great Greek philosophers most likely intersect quite intensely with this logical and rational approach, with many of them having processed and written a lot about human rationality. I will learn further how their modes of thought can be adapted to our modern challenges and needs.


The Rational Society is committed to presenting ideas related to the rational school of thought, focused on improving personal issues, overcoming challenges and fulfilling ambitions. It is not a dogmatic ideology but an established mode of thought with the explicit goal of guiding the person to the most logical, healthy and beneficial choice.