Daily Archives: 03/12/2014

Alexithymia

A new word!  I love learning new words – particularly if they relate to myself and this blog and this one does!  Reading a blog post by Paul called Inside the Alcoholic Brain he talked about alexithymia.  I went straight to Wiki who said:

Alexithymia is a personality construct characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.

Alexithymia is defined by:

  1. difficulty identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal
  2. difficulty describing feelings to other people
  3. constricted imaginal processes, as evidenced by a scarcity of fantasies
  4. a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style.

Alarm bells started going off in my head – this was me.  Emotionally constipated, external stimulus driven me.  Now I could go on about what I’m learning at Cambridge – how emotions have to be contained and labelled for us as children for us to understand them and be able to express them, both as children and adults.  How they are not good or bad – they just are.  How if that doesn’t happen we find ourselves emotionally mute and that’s when the external sources allow us to express it in a way that we can’t – or allow us to express ourselves.  I could always say the things that I could never say sober when I was drunk.

So off I went to do an online alexithymia score at http://oaq.blogspot.co.uk/.

And my score was possible alexithymia – not a yes or a no but a grey in the middle answer.  I have to wonder how I would have fared if I’d done this score while I was still drinking?  The last 14 months has been all about hearing and seeing feelings for, what seems like, the first time.  I will also be revisiting the score in another year to see how much it has changed again as I learn to relate to myself as a child as part of my course.  As I re-parent my child within and learn from that process as an adult.

Edited to add: 8th April 2016 Supporting research

The DRAM, Vol. 12(4) – Feeling your feelings: Expectations in alcohol-dependent drinkers with alexithymia

People often drink alcohol in an attempt to manage their emotions. For example, some might use alcohol to help cope with unwanted negative feelings or to feel more comfortable in social situations. Surprisingly, roughly half of people with alcohol-dependence suffer from some level of alexithymia, or “emotional blindness.”