Simply put, alexithymia is a disorder where the individual struggles to name their emotions. When asked to describe their feelings, they cannot. As a result, they struggle with interpersonal relationships as well as forming social attachments. There are two different types of alexithymia: state and trait. State alexithymia is a temporary condition and can be triggered by something like post-traumatic stress disorder. Trait alexithymia, however, is believed to be part of the individual’s personality and can sometimes be the result of a traumatic childhood. This condition is more prevalent than many individuals realize, with some studies estimating up to ten percent of the population having it. Several key symptoms present themselves in individuals with alexithymia.
Difficulty Identifying Feelings
One of the most challenging things for someone with alexithymia is their inability to understand their emotions or what caused them in the first place. Someone with alexithymia may not understand the difference between what happens when they experience a strong emotion and what happens when their body experiences emotional arousal. When the body enters a state of emotional arousal, there is higher than usual physiological activity. An example of this would be the flight or fight response, which an individual with alexithymia may not be able to extinguish from their feelings. Writing in a journal is considered the most effective way for patients with this condition to slowly learn how to identify how they feel. This only works if the patient can go beyond listing the daily events and really try to analyze the overall experience.
Continue for more on the warning signs of alexithymia.