Have you ever been in a relationship with someone who just could not or would not express their feelings? The lack of intimate communication can be the demise of many relationships. Although you may have believed you were involved with a partner who just didn’t want to “share” his/her feelings, in actuality you may have been dealing with a person who suffers from Alexithymia.
The term “Alexithymia” was coined by psychotherapist Peter Sifenos in 1973. It is described as a personality trait in which a person has difficulty sharing or understanding emotional issues. Sufferers often do not possess the ability to distinguish between feelings and bodily sensations. They have very stoic personalities and typically only engage in relationships because, as human beings, we naturally desire to “belong” to someone.
According to Nick Frye-Cox, a doctoral student at the University of Missouri, physiological responses to this condition are: sweaty palms, increased heart rate and the inability to identify emotions as sad, happy or angry. Symptoms of Alexithymia are similar to the symptoms of a person with Asperger’s Syndrome, i.e.: issues with speech, language and social relationships. According to the Journal of Affective Disorders article, Effects of childhood trauma on somatization in major depressive disorder: The role of alexithymia, emotional abuse during childhood can affect the emergence of Alexithymia as an adult.
Currently the cause of Alexithymia has not been defined; however, studies have concluded that some people are genetically predisposed to develop the personality trait, while others develop the trait as a result of childhood abuse.
read more articles on Alexithymia at mdlinx.com/psychiatry
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