Isn't it strange how words change their meaning over time?

While nowadays, apathy is generally used to describe certain disturbing mental states, the original meaning of the word was the state of the mind free of pathos, or mental anguish. It was a spiritual ideal, a goal to attain.

For example, early Christian mystics (early, i.e., the first three centuries of Christianity, more or less) went to the desert in the hope of developing apathy (apatheia), i.e., complete emancipation, a neutral state of inner peace and detachment, not unlike what Buddhist monks are still practicing today.

Another example is the stoics who also considered apathy an ideal to achieve, even if their ideal was somewhat different from the detachment described above. To the stoics, apathy was the state of pure reason and logic untouched by any emotion. Nowadays we call them Vulcans because calling them apathetic would convey a totally different image.