What is Alexithymia? Problems with Expressing Emotion


What is Alexithymia?

Alexithymia is a psychological term meaning “literally, not having words for emotions.”
Alexithymic individuals lack the ability to understand and express emotions due to events that have affected them in the past.

Marked instability in relational memory, social attachment, and intimate relationships is the major symptom of alexithymia.

Emotions are in our life since the existence of human beings. Additionally, the information about mental state and the successful naming of emotions provides information about how to react in different situations. So acting with awareness of this emotional experience play an important role in mutual relations.

In addition, emotions have an important function in establishing meaningful and successful communication between individuals in daily life. They are effective in the formation of interpersonal social interaction. So it’s important to share the emotions related to an event. In this article, we will discuss what is it, its symptoms, and treatment methods.

what is alexithymia?
Source: @mantou95_

What is Alexithymia?

A person who has this mental state has problems recognizing, defining, and expressing their own emotions. The word consists of the words a = absent, lexis = word, thymos = emotion. Sifneos first used this concept to express the difficulties of individuals in recognizing and describing their emotions.

So, Alexithymia decreases the quality of life of the individual and creates a great deficiency in the process of recognizing and defining emotions and may lead to depression, tension, loneliness, and anxiety of external stimuli.

Also, alexithymia accompanies multiple psychiatric disorders such as depression, eating disorder, somatoform disorder, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.

what is alexithymia? problems with expressing emotion 1
Alexithymia

What are the Symptoms of Alexithymia?

  • The first symptom might be the difficulty understanding his own feelings and expressing them.
  • The person has difficulty understanding / making sense of someone else’s feelings.
  • You may lack empathy
  • You may face stomach problems
  • You might not engage in social relations and drift into loneliness
  • You might have limited imagination
  • Emotional awareness might be insufficient.

What Causes Alexithymia?

  • Alexithymia may occur due to the inadequate functioning of the region responsible for recognizing and -identifying emotions in the brain.
  • Alexithymia can be transmitted by genes.
  • It can also occur in people who grow up in an environment devoid of unconditional love and care in childhood.
  • It may be due to the lack of a socialization environment.

Treatment of Alexithymia

Speech-oriented therapies, in other words, psychotherapies, play an important role in alexithymic properties.

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy can help to comprehend the inadequacy of the person’s ability to recognize/define emotions or to understand emotions and the underlying factors. On the other hand, psychotherapy improves emotional maturation in identifying one’s own feelings and evaluating others’ feelings. Thus, thanks to emotional maturation, the person will be aware of his/her emotions and will not have any problems about how to act in a positive or negative situation.

What is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy?

The conceptualization of the person by interpreting alexithymic behaviors with the help of cognitive methods and techniques will affect the treatment process positively. Thus, through interpreting and conceptualizing, the person learns to distinguish and correctly identify feelings and thoughts enables emotions. 

Last Updated on December 2, 2021 by William Lindberg

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Currently studying psychology and researching cognitive behavioral therapy. Also have studied comprative literature,interested in gender studies,.

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