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.
“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.