Refers to the subclinical inability to identify and describe emotions experienced by one’s self or others.


It is characterized by a marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relating.


Alexithymia is defined by:


Difficulty identifying feelings 


Difficulty in  distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal.


Difficulty describing feelings to other people.


Constricted imagination processes, with scarcity of fantasies.


Patients with alexithymia have difficulty in distinguishing and appreciating the emotions of others.


Such individuals have unempathic and ineffective emotional responsiveness.


It occurs in approximately 10% of the population.


It can occur with a number of psychiatric conditions as well as any neurodevelopmental disorder.


Alexithymiais a dimensional personality trait that varies in intensity from person to person. 


An alexithymia score can be measured with questionnaires Alexithymia Scales.


Alexithymia is distinct from the psychiatric personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder or borderline personality disorder, with which it shares some characteristics, and is likewise distinct from the abnormal conditions of sociopathy or psychopathy.


There may be a higher prevalence of alexithymia among males than females.


Some males have with difficulty describing feelings  but not by identifying feelings in which males and females show similar abilities.


Alexithymia is a personality trait.


Deficiencies may include: problems identifying, processing, describing, and working with one’s own feelings, often associated  by a lack of understanding of the feelings of others, difficulty distinguishing between feelings and the  sensations of emotional arousal, confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions, few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination, and concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems. 


Individuals with alexithymia report logical and realistic dreams.


Clinical experience suggests it is the structural features of dreams more than the ability to recall them that best characterizes alexithymia.


Some alexithymic individuals can experience chronic dysphoria or manifest outbursts of crying or rage.


However, they are incapable of describing their feelings or appear confused by questions inquiring about specifics of feelings.


They have  a cognitive disturbance as patients tend to recount trivial, chronologically ordered actions, reactions, and events of daily life with monotonous detail.


These patients seem oriented toward things and even treat themselves as robots. 


Patients have limited responsiveness to psychoanalytic psychotherapy, and  such intervention may frequently exacerbate symptoms.


The  major manifestation:   is that people poorly differentiated emotions limiting ability to distinguish and describe them to others.


They have a sense of emotional detachment from themselves and difficulty connecting with others, making alexithymia negatively associated with life satisfaction.


It frequently co-occurs with other disorders. 


With autistic spectrum disorders: increased inability to recognize and articulate emotional arousal in oneself or others.


Alexithymia overlaps with autism spectrum disorders (ASD).


Alexithymic traits in ASD may be linked to clinical depression or anxiety.


It is possible that alexithymia predisposes to anxiety.


The alexithymia score is significantly associated with ADHD, and symptoms of hyperactivity/impulsivity.


Many psychiatric disorders overlap with alexithymia;   PTSD,  anorexia nervosa, bulimia, in major depressive disorder, panic disorder, of social phobics, and substance abusers. 


A major  proportion of individuals with acquired brain injuries such as stroke or traumatic brain injury have alexithymia.


Correlates with personality disorders, substance abuse disorders, anxiety disorders,  and sexual disorders.


Physical illnesses, such as hypertension, inflammatory bowel disease functional dyspepsia, migraine headaches, lower back pain, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, nausea, allergies and fibromyalgia may be associated.


Alexithymia is associated with the 


inability to modulate emotions:  some patients  react to unpleasant emotional states through impulsive acts or compulsive behaviors such as binge eating, substance abuse, perverse sexual behavior or anorexia nervosa.


When there is an inability to regulate emotions it can  result in prolonged elevations of the autonomic nervous system and neuroendocrine systems leading  to somatic illnesses.


Many people with alexipathy have


limited ability to experience positive emotions leading to anhedonia.


With alexithymia emotional information from the right hemisphere of the brain is not being properly transferred to the language regions in the left hemisphere.


This impaired information transference can be caused by a decreased corpus callosum, often present in psychiatric patients who have suffered severe childhood abuse.


Alexithymia may be due to a disturbance to the right hemisphere of the brain, which is the site largely responsible for processing emotions.


There is a higher score on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale among those with the 5-HTTLPR homozygous long (L) allele.


The 5-HTTLPR region on the serotonin transporter gene influences the transcription of the seretonin transporter that removes serotonin from the synaptic cleft, and is associated  with numerous psychiatric disorders.


The role and influence of genetic factors for developing alexithymia is still unclear.


Individuals with traumatic brain injury are six times more likely to exhibit alexithymia.


Interpersonal problems occur with alexithymia  because these individuals tend to avoid emotionally close relationships.


Patients with alexithymia form usually positioning  themselves as either dependent, dominant, or impersonal. such that the relationship remains superficial.


Alexithymic individuals have  difficulty in processing interpersonal connections, and often develops in  the persons lacking a romantic partner.


Cold/distant and non-assertive social functioning is found with alexithymia 


due to the inherent difficulties identifying and describing emotional states that affects relationship satisfaction between couples.


Patients have impaired understanding of relational affection.


Patients with alexithymia have poorer mental health, poorer relational well-being, and lowered relationship quality.


Alexithymic individuals report less distress at seeing others in pain, and behave less altruistically toward others.


Alexithymia frequently presents in people with undiagnosed chronic pain, and anxiety disorders.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *