Rare on a global scale, Apathy Syndrome is a disorder found solely within Port Island and Okina City. Lately, a few cases have been popping up in Yumezaki Ward within Sumaru City, but only within the boundaries of that ward. The first cases began to crop up in early 2000, in Port Island. Okina City only began seeing cases in late 2010, while Sumaru's Yumezaki Ward only saw their first case in September of 2011.
What The Public Knows
It is characterized by a complete loss of interest in external stimuli of any kind. The afflicted do not move and are incapable caring for themselves. If left to their own devices, they would dehydrate, starve, or simply perish from exposure. No cure has been found for the disorder, and only palliative care is available. Occasionally, victims of Apathy Syndrome make an overnight recovery and, any problems their self-neglect has caused aside, don't seem any worse for wear for their having suffered the condition.
Apathy Syndrome cases tend to wax and wane along with the phases of the moon, which some researchers have noticed. Thus, they peak at the full moon and there are fewer diagnoses at the new moon.
There does not appear to be any genetic predisposition for 'catching' Apathy Syndrome--parents may succumb while their children remain unafflicted and vice versa--and neither has any biological agent been detected. No clear link between a chemical and Apathy Syndrome has been found, either. Ongoing research into other environmental causes, such as upbringing and diet, has also yet to find a clear link. The best hypothesis that researchers have put forth is that Apathy Syndrome is a culture-bound syndrome, some reaction to the high stress of modern Japanese life.
Several organizations collect funding to support research into developing a cure or seeking the cause behind it. As a result, little donation boxes are common all across Port Island and Okina City.
Various rumors and beliefs naturally circulate about Apathy Syndrome's cause and what might prevent one from catching it, as well as what might cure it. A great deal of people have less-than-ethically made a profit selling 'proven' preventatives and cures. Slightly less shadily, some claim that alternative medicines and vitamin treatments are effective in preventing or curing the disorder. None of this has any real effect, though naturally people will swear by any of it as long as they remain well.
There is a point cause for Apathy Syndrome, though it stems from a source that no one would ever normally suspect. Only SEES and their allies know the truth of the matter.
Apathy Syndrome is caused by Shadows. Great numbers of Shadows in a single area seek humans who awaken in the Dark Hour as their prey. This is also why it only occurs in the precise locations that it does: these are all locations that experience the Dark Hour.
Some unfortunate people are completely devoured and result in unsolvable missing persons cases. In most cases, though, the Shadows instead devour the psyches of their victims, leaving them unresponsive until the offending Shadow (or the Shadow that devoured that Shadow) is slain, and the psyche released. Thus, the only way to resolve Apathy Syndrome is to kill Shadows.
In particular, the death of large Shadows results in more people recovering from Apathy Syndrome. This is partially because stronger Shadows prey on weaker Shadows, and so an especially large one may contain the psyches of various people. It is also because a larger Shadow can draw people to it, and thus prey on their psyches.