Alexithymia – What Are Its Symptoms?

Not all people are able to connect with their deepest emotions. Some people have a hard time doing this because they suffer from a disorder called alexithymia. In this article, we’ll look at its symptoms.
Alexithymia - What Are Its Symptoms?

Alexithymia is a rather interesting condition, and its symptoms include some people having difficulty identifying the emotions they experience as well as expressing them verbally. The term was first used in 1973 by professor of psychiatry, Peter Sifneos.

This was after the disability was observed in some of his patients at the psychiatric clinic at Massachusetts General Hospital.

The Spanish Neurological Society estimates that up to 10% of the world’s population suffers from this disease. However, it should be emphasized that not everyone experiences it to the same degree.

Alexithymia – types of disease

Patients with symptoms of alexithymia may suffer from this disease for a variety of reasons. It is they who determine the type of disease, primary or secondary:

  • Primary. In these cases, there is some kind of neurological deficit that affects communication between the limbic system and the neocortex, or between the cerebral hemispheres. This could be hereditary or it could be due to the appearance of a neurological disease.
  • Secondary. Secondary alexithymia is the result of some kind of emotional disturbance. This may be due to the repeated failure to receive feelings during childhood. Alternatively, it can manifest itself in adults who have been subjected to traumatic situations.

The inability to express their feelings leads to the social isolation of these people.

Who May Suffer From Alexithymia?

Professor Sifneos originally identified this trait in patients suffering from psychosomatic disorders. However, over the years it has also been linked to other diseases such as drug or drug addiction and antisocial personality disorders.

When it comes to physical diseases related to alexithymia symptoms, we can include multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, head injuries, strokes and brain tumors. On the other hand, disorders such as eating disorders, autism spectrum disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorders can also be to blame .

The main symptoms of alexithymia

According to Pedinielli (1992), there are four basic alexithymic symptoms:

  1. Inability to verbally express emotions or feelings
  2. No or limited imagination
  3. A tendency to resort to action to avoid and resolve conflicts
  4. High level of thinking focused on specific worries

The pedinellias attribute these characteristics to problems with symbolic function or the inability to express the subject’s unconscious dimensions. For this reason, these people often express their emotional state through somatization.

Other symptoms of alexithymia

For both somatic and neurological reasons, people suffering from alexithymia also exhibit a number of features that may define them to varying degrees:

  • Lack of emotional empathy : People with alexithymia find it extremely difficult to put themselves in the shoes of others. Not recognizing their own emotions, they find it even harder to understand the emotions of others.
  • Limited verbal communication : These are generally people who speak very little. In addition, they tend to be serious and withdrawn when dealing with others.
  • Poor nonverbal communication : When it comes to communication, these people are quite rigid. They are not expressive and make little body movement.
  • Too much rationality : Because their emotional world is limited, they tend to be very rational and pragmatic.
  • Low introspection : These are people who don’t analyze their feelings because they can’t identify themselves or describe their emotions. Therefore, it is easier for them to focus on the external aspects.
  • Difficulty maintaining emotional relationships : People with alexithymia have a very low level of feelings and have difficulty expressing them to others. Their relationships are usually unfulfilled and tend to be socially isolated.
Reading emotions

Psychological therapies for alexithyms are recommended and necessary as part of treatment.

Is there any treatment to relieve the symptoms of the disease?

These patients may benefit from therapy in different ways. For example , individual therapy based on the cognitive development of emotional awareness (Lane and Schwartz, 1987) has produced good results.

Group work is also suitable for working on severe symptoms. The combination of individual and group therapy seems to be the most effective way to solve this disorder.

Alexithymia: Final Thoughts on This Condition.

People with symptoms of alexithymia may appear to have no feelings, but they are not. They feel fear, joy, sadness, and all other primary and secondary emotions. What is happening, however, is that their way of experiencing them differs from that of most people, which can lead to communication conflicts.

For this reason, participation in therapy is advisable and even necessary. These people may never experience emotions in the same way as other people who do not have the disorder, but a therapeutic approach can certainly be of great benefit to them. It can help you significantly improve the quality of their lives and relationships.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button