To render a subject insensitive
to a certain stimulus
, usually as a result of prolonged exposure
or repeated shocks. Although the word can have a medicinal context, in the case of a patient becoming desensitized
to an antigen, in recent years it has become a buzz-word
to refer to the process media violence has on our emotional reactions.
The medicinal context gives us a good idea of what it means to be desensitized. For instance, the over-use of antibiotics will desensitize certain viruses - causing them to no longer be affected by the original dose of medicine. The dosage required to effectively combat the virus increases over time, creating stronger and stronger viruses.
Keeping this definition in mind, we can move on to apply the desensitization process to the emotional as well as the physical. The theory goes that with prolonged exposure to violence, our emotional reactions to such scenes (normally quite extreme) will actually lessen as our mind becomes accustomed to seeing such atrocities. The main concern is that with emotional desensitization to violence, vicims of this process are more likely to commit violent crimes themselves. The debated conclusion is whether or not desensitization can actually affect an individuals morals.