Definitions of Dehumanization

Definitions of Dehumanization

Dehumanization is the act and effect of dehumanizing: stripping away human features. Dehumanize is a word that has its etymological origin in Latin. And it is that it is the result of several clearly defined components of said language:

-The prefix “des-”, which indicates the reversal of the action.

-The word “humanus”, which means “belonging to the earth”.

-The verb “izare”, which can be translated as “to become”.

The loss of human traits is referred to as dehumanization.

What is dehumanization

The concept is often used in the field of social sciences to refer to the process that deprives a human being of those characteristics that identify the species.

Dehumanization is often linked to the loss of ethical values ​​and sensitivity. A person becomes dehumanized, for example, when he becomes indifferent to another’s pain. It can be said that the attitude of someone who walks past a dying person and does not stop to help him is the result of his dehumanization.

A societal issue

Beyond individual cases, dehumanization is often considered a social issue. It can be said in a broad sense that modern societies are no longer moved or outraged by tragedies that once generated an impact. Therefore, people became dehumanized: they do not feel empathy or compassion as they did in the past.

Abandoning a child, moving away from grandparents, not caring about neighbors and not exercising solidarity are other reflections of dehumanization that show how many people, for various reasons, have distanced themselves from the essence of the human condition, or from what that was considered to characterize our species.

Indifference to the pain of others is a trait of dehumanization.

Factors that affect dehumanization

Specifically, we can establish that there are several causes for the current society to be marked by a clear dehumanization, among which the following stand out:

-Sociological factors, such as the plurality of ethical systems, the impoverishment of interpersonal relationships, the demands of sacrifice or the satisfaction of one’s own interests.

-Individual factors, such as false expectations, selfishness and self-centeredness, the need to be the best in everything, insane competitiveness…


Dehumanization can also be understood as a consequence of the alienation caused by technology. Decades ago, human beings left community life and began to isolate themselves more and more, replacing interpersonal relationships with virtual bonds. The constant use of machines at work also sometimes means that the individual does not use his creativity, but acts as a simple gear within a system.

In the same way, there is also talk of the dehumanization of art, which was a concept created in the first half of the 20th century. Specifically, it was the philosopher Ortega y Gasset who made it known through his 1925 work entitled “The dehumanization of art.”

Specifically, with that term what he came to expose is that after the First World War different “isms” had emerged both in art and in literature where a lack of humanity was evident. That is to say, he considered that the “human ingredients” had disappeared in them while surrealism, hermeticism and insignificance did exist in them, as well as a clear desire to innovate and anti-romanticism.


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