The alexithymia is a disorder of neurological generated in those who suffer from a notorious inability to control power and recognize their own emotions and, therefore, leads them to have difficulties in verbal expression.
Specifically, we can establish that the characteristics that every person suffering from this disease has are the following: difficulty in both identifying and describing emotions and feelings, reduced capacity for fantasy, problems in differentiating what are the sensations that their body experiences regarding what feelings are, notorious concern about what external facts or details are…
According to certain statistics, alexithymia affects 8% of men and 1.8% of women. On the other hand, it reaches 30% of people with psychological disorders and 85% of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.
The concept was developed by psychiatrist Peter E. Sifneos in 1972. When working alongside John C. Nemiah at Beth Israel Hospital, Sifneos noted that a large number of patients with psychosomatic disorders had great difficulty in referencing their emotions.
Neurologists have discovered that alexithymics have an abnormality in the brain area that is responsible for analyzing and formulating emotions. Instead of developing a brain activity according to the emotional degree of each scenario, people suffering from this neurological disorder reflect a process that varies from very weak to very intense, which affects the fair appreciation of each emotion.
The causes of alexithymia can begin to appear in the first years of childhood, when the child still lacks hierarchical mental states associated with concepts. Therefore, it deals with emotions through its body. If their parents are unable to provide verbal information about the emotions their child begins to feel, the child may feel that what is happening to him cannot be explained in words.
Experts in this field, in addition to all the aforementioned, basically classify this disease into two main classes. Thus, on the one hand, there would be the primary one, which is the one that has its origin in a biological question and therefore appears as a consequence of a neurobiological defect or deficiency that is the result of hereditary factors.
On the other hand, we would find the so-called secondary alexithymia, which is the one that arises from a series of dramatic situations experienced by an individual both in childhood and in adulthood. These could include from kidnappings to having witnessed certain hard moments during the course of a war.
In this last specific case of alexithymia, it is important to emphasize that what people who suffer from it do is suppress everything that is painful emotions or sensations, repress their feelings, as a way of defense. But not only in a defensive way, to protect themselves, this incapacity related to feelings occurs, but also as a form of denial in the face of what can be both trauma and conflicts of different types.
Although alexithymia was first observed in subjects with psychosomatic disorders, today it is also related to drug addiction, eating disorders, psychopathies, and post-traumatic stress.