Feelings of emptiness often accompany high-pressure, high-reward endeavors.
My wife and I are psychoanalysts with a special interest in training therapists in China. This niche has given us an opportunity to learn about Chinese culture and Chinese patients over the last 15 years.
We recently participated in a symposium themed “The Thinking Heart,” held at the Freud Museum in London (and available online). Together, we presented on a topic that has emerged as a new way of thinking about depression in young Chinese patients: empty heart disease.
Professor Xu Kaiwen, deputy head of the mental health education and counseling center at China’s top-ranked Peking University, first described empty heart disease (or kongxin bing in Chinese) at an education conference in 2016. It pertains to students who have succeeded in gaining admission to elite universities but arrive there with “empty hearts,” feeling no sense of purpose in their lives.