Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Alexithymia

Here's another word I hadn't heard before until recently: alexithymia. According to wikipedia, it is a decreased ability to identify, understand, and describe one's own emotions. It is supposed to be common (10%) with a high comorbidity.

Does this sound like anyone you know?


Nick Frye-Cox, a doctoral student in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, says people with alexithymia can describe their physiological responses to events, such as sweaty palms or faster heartbeats, but are unable to identify their emotions as sad, happy or angry. In addition, those with alexithymia have difficulty discerning the causes of their feelings or explaining variations in their emotions, he said.
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“People with alexithymia are always weighing the costs and benefits, so they can easily enter and exit relationships. They don’t think others can meet their needs, nor do they try to meet the needs of others.”

This is going to blow your minds, but alexithymia has been linked to lack of empathy:

Because awareness of emotional states in the self is a prerequisite to recognizing such states in others, alexithymia (ALEX), difficulty in identifying and expressing one's own emotional states, should involve impairment in empathy. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), we compared an ALEX group (n = 16) and a non-alexithymia (non-ALEX) group (n = 14) for their regional hemodynamic responses to the visual perception of pictures depicting human hands and feet in painful situations. Subjective pain ratings of the pictures and empathy-related psychological scores were also compared between the 2 groups. The ALEX group showed less cerebral activation in the left dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC), the dorsal pons, the cerebellum, and the left caudal anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) within the pain matrix. The ALEX group showed greater activation in the right insula and inferior frontal gyrus. Furthermore, alexithymic participants scored lower on the pain ratings and on the scores related to mature empathy. In conclusion, the hypofunction in the DLPFC, brain stem, cerebellum, and ACC and the lower pain-rating and empathy-related scores in ALEX are related to cognitive impairments, particularly executive and regulatory aspects, of emotional processing and support the importance of self-awareness in empathy.

This is all sort of interesting and new to me. It's only been relatively recently that I've identified my emotions as being present, but difficult to identify, whether nervousness, love, or even just a general inability to give feelings that context that they need to become emotions. Consequently they aren't meaningful to me in the way that I imagine they are for others -- I don't feel the same way about them.

52 comments:

  1. Now you can't be first

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    1. isn't that what aspies/autists have?
      they have a hard time identifying emotions (there own ans others)

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    2. when they asked KIM DE GELDER what he felt stabing all those babys and ppl. he asked to be given a list of emotions so he could pick one. (in court)

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  2. That sounds too familiar. During some of the most emotional & painful moments of my relationship with a sociopath, he would blankly stare and verbalize that he couldn't put himself in my shoes. Worse yet, he would
    manifest a raised heart rate & sweaty palms without designation of a specific emotion. I had never heard of this term but I seems to fit for sociopaths. Perhaps this
    will give insight to the biological mechanism that plays a role.

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    1. That's just emotional retardation, like aspergers or schizoid; sociopaths don't have much in terms of even physiological reactions.like sweaty palms. If he was a sociopath he would have tried to wear your shoes.

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  3. I usually only know if a feeling is positive or negative, nothing more. I can't immediately identify what the feeling is, or if it's internal or external (coming from me or someone else), or if external, which person it's from. Frustrating. QM

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  4. I don't like to use the same song for 2 Regulars. I used UKan's Theme for Asshead. Even though these 2 Regulars are very similar, I like each one to have his own song.


    Theme for Asshead

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  5. I have a question based on what an anon said, yesterday. I know there is a spectrum for narcissism. The mal narc is at the end of the spectrum. However, is the mal narc a psychopath? What is a psychopath, exactly? Is it someone w/out empathy? Is it that simple?

    Also, the mal narc will stop his actions from shame, whereas a sociopath has no shame. So, is a mal narc a sociopath who has shame?

    I know we have discussed this before, and I have asked this question. I am just trying to get it clear, in my own mind.

    Thanks for any answers!

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    1. The differential diagnosis for narcissism and sociopathy is that narcississts are capable of guilt and remorse. True sociopaths are not. Between narcissism and sociopathy lie the borderline personality disorder.

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  6. Good morning, Rich, Monica, and everybody!
    QM

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    1. Good Morning Anon and Everyone!
      I have a question for QM. You are anonymous. Could you describe your childhood?

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    2. Hi Monica. I don't mind you asking, I'm not too shy.

      Pretty chaotic and violent, not surprisingly. My mom is sadist and narc / histrionic. My dad died young and I lost my grandparents. We moved a lot and a lot of people went to rehab.

      And this is random, but I saw this site and actually thought of you and what you've said about your mom: daughtersofnarcissisticmothers.com
      I thought it was interesting. QM

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    3. She takes especial pleasure in causing pain, but also fear or making unpleasant things happen for people. She tortures dogs, and picks fights with clerks and then threatens to have them fired. Actually, she might be a sociopath because she's also pretty charming. QM

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    4. Was she sadistic with you, too :(

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    5. Sure. One of my first memories is her telling me I could have had ice cream if I had done something faster and me bursting into tears. Another is her being frustrated with me crying too much and holding me under water to silence me. I guess it's not too shocking that I had problems with violence myself... QM

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    6. Do you feel like you want to hurt yourself i.e self harm?

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    7. Good Morning Qm and everybody else!!!

      Did anybody else catch the Dr.Phil show the last 2 days? There was an obvious sociopath/psychopath who wouldnt taike a polygraph to see if he knows where his missing son is or if he kiklled him....... Frightening!

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    8. Monica, according to one of ME's other posts, a mal narc is a person who is antisocial and a narcissist. This would make him very sadistic.


      I went out with an antisocial with giant narc qualities. stood out like a sore thumb, so much so it was hard not to feel sorry for him. which i did. < His pity playing helped this along, too.

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    9. Monica, self-harm isn't something I crave but I did try cutting for a while to help me keep from hurting others, like a substitute, if that makes sense. But that was in high school.

      Hi Rich! I missed that, but it sounds like the guy knows 0.o

      QM

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    10. Yes, I want to hurt myself and did, as a way not to hurt others. I made that choice, somewhere along the way, as it seemed the lesser of the two evils, as neither was too great.

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    11. Exactly! I thought it would be the lesser of two evils. It was like training wheels in redirecting myself.

      Were you ever violent towards others or just into self-harm? Do you think you have any sadistic tendencies? (no judgement from me obvi!)

      QM

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    12. No, self harm was it. I can't stand to hurt people.

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    13. What about when it's the only way to get them to stop hurting you?

      QM

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    14. Anonymous, your mother was not a narcissist but in the range of borderline/sociopathy. I'm sorry you suffered so much growing up.

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  7. Alexithymia is something I have been discussing with my head doc. It is associated with the subject of theory of mind (empathy or lack there of). It's the biggest thing I am learning to understand about myself even if the emotional information might be impossible for me to process. If I can know that I don't know something it becomes less of a blind spot and more a negotiable obstacle.

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    1. I don't know anything about theory of mind, but getting rid of a blind spot sounds great. May I ask, for you is it hard to sense other's emotions or only your own?
      QM

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    2. "Sense" other's emotions? I can't. I can read other people's actions and go with what I know to figure out that they might be sad or happy... however, I can't even tell you what I'm really feeling unless it is anger or elation, everything else in the grey is kind of foriegn. So, I have found that it is very difficult for me to understand when other's are feeling anything other than the extreme highs or lows as well.

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    3. " If I can know that I don't know something it becomes less of a blind spot and more a negotiable obstacle."

      wow. yeah. thats why i have hunches and i have a rrreal hard time listening to them. i wait till a person does something hypocritical instead. or i will wait till they tell me why they did something and it verifies for me my hunch.

      all the while, i'll let the time pass. they could be doing stuff that is bothersome or "disrespectful" and i may feel like they just shit on me but i will say to myself that i dont know why people do things. i dont . i really don't.

      And i do think about it. it just doesn't matter. because often, what i need to gain means more. Idk what this is, but it feels like i buried the giving a shit of "why".

      I dont know if i was this way all the time. I think it's recent. I think i am just kind of numbed. I'm sure half the stuff which caused it happened recently but seeing how i gre up, maybe not.

      I'm done reacting to stuff i can't control. And I should speak up more, probably. I just dont trust they'lll do the right things with the things i might say. BEcause i can predict (or project, which is having blindspot) ALso, I dont trust that my mind and perspective wont change about how i feel. IT does, very often.

      i only see the scales. They could be shitting all over me in their heads and if they dont tell me it's their fucking problem for expecting me to change or know.

      On the other hand, I CAN see and recognize emotions of others. It's just that they only inform me how I should be and adjust around them.

      ^^I'm a giver lol.



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    4. that's sad that you don't trust others with what you will say, so you say nothing. what kind of "right" things should they be doing? ? now others aren't entitled to react to random stuff you say in the moment? People will say you're flakey, in the long run, and so?

      Just what, if anything, are you sure about?


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  8. Extremes are definitely easier to pick up. I usually 'mentalize' what others probably feel or even what others would feel in my shoes and try to go from there.

    Although I think I confuse myself doing this sometimes - I get caught up in acting out 'emotional hallucinations' that would probably be appropriate for more empathic people and I waste energy. (And how dumb is that?) I'm glad M.E. pointed out that it's possible to do that.
    QM

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  9. Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you relied on the
    video to make your point. You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to
    your blog when you could be giving us something informative to read?


    Here is my page ... buy instagram followers
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  10. The fog descends. MY fog. I don't want to be near anyone. I am far away. I would have to echo, from the bottom of the canyon. H- E- L- L- O. They would have to holler back. It is so tiring, my race.

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  11. It is not as if I make no progress, but it is so slow, as if a candle dripped, dripped, dripped until it was extinguished.

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    Replies
    1. What am I doing wrong? Should I stop trying? Lie down in the snow and die, like they do in blizzards. Lie down in the cold and give in to it's mesmerizing pull, like watching white lines on the highway when you are driving through states that go on for hours and hours.

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    2. you never lie down, Sofa. Hear? never.

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  12. Thank you, Anon <3

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  13. Wow, Monica is really going into the deep end. I would not want to be left alone in a room with her after dark.

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  14. ME wrote...

    Here's another word I hadn't heard before until recently: alexithymia. According to wikipedia, it is a decreased ability to identify, understand, and describe one's own emotions. It is supposed to be common (10%) with a high comorbidity.

    Does this sound like anyone you know?


    i'm sorry i'm late for this post. it's interesting.

    alexithymia or asperger's, or both, is what i think my father has. it's definitely not sociopathy. he isn't able to manipulate and blend in socially, or read others.

    he's often insisted to me that he has zero imagination, which i used to not believe. because he doesn't use imagination to work out scenarios and outcomes, it really limits his ability to organize and plan his life. he exists in the present. he has a hard time learning new tasks, has ptsd, an explosive temper if pushed, loves spouting facts without any real point to them, is rigid in approach to living, little spontaneity, doesn't have patience for deep/logical thinking and analysis, can't listen to the radio while driving (marvels that anyone can), gets easily overloaded, uses vision to navigate not to connect to others, and can't dissemble.

    he doesn't use metaphors, slang or linguistic short cuts with ease. and doesn't take context into account in conversations. so if there is a gap in the conversation, you have to explain the references all over again.

    that's the part i think might be the autism. although his ability to empathize is limited by the information he can take in and process, it's there. but he can't put his needs aside. so this is where maybe autism can seem like sociopathy?

    also his range of emotions is limited to angry and happy, with slight variations. the subtleties are not there. while he can see that other people have abilities that he doesn't, it doesn't really bother him. this might be the alexithymia.

    just like some people have great vision and some are blind, doesn't it make sense that some have ability to feeling a greater range of feelings and some may have a limited ability to feel? if that's so, alexithymia might be emotion blindness that anyone, regardless of personality type or disorder, might have.

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    1. i think i also have a psychopathic aunt. she actually talks like the cliche psychopaths on television, in a very systematic carefully measured way.

      growing up with low empathy logical types, this all seemed to me the norm. it was like my first language, and so much so that i still instantly fall into a specific way of interacting when i run into similar types.

      it's like when you smile at a stranger then realize they're blind.. you switch gears and ramp up the verbal information, and tone down the visual. i usually drop the nonverbal stuff and the slang, and focus on the literal stuff that they can actually digest. it's like a kind of mind blindness that limits options for relating and communicating. but when you focus on what they can do and make an effort to communicate it's possible to get to know the person that's somewhere in there.

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