Alexithymia is ... Alexitimia as a psychological problem

Think about how sometimes even the healthiestit is difficult for a person to describe his emotions when he looks at the sunset, inhales the scent of spring flowers, hears the sound of rain on the roof. What can I say about the patient with alexithymia, which is absolutely incapable of giving verbal form to his feelings and experiences.

The essence of the term

Alexitimia is the inability to express emotionsverbally, pick up the necessary words to convey to the interlocutor all gamut of internal sensations. Psychologists say that this is not a disease. Most likely, alexithymia can be called an individual peculiarity of the psyche of the individual, a kind of syndrome or psychological problem that has nothing to do with mental abilities. A person can be wise, for example, a famous scientist or researcher, but at the same time he will never tell you what he feels while watching a tearful melodrama.

alexithymia isSince the 70s of the last century, a well-known specialistPeter Sifneos, observing patients with somatic disorders, was the first to use the term "alexithymia". This in psychology meant that the patient either does not know how to describe his emotions at all, or whether he does it inaccurately, incorrectly, little. Peter Sifneos argued that such people are devoid of imagination, sometimes they do not distinguish the line between bodily sensations and inner feelings, they are unable to understand the feelings of another person. The listed features are manifested simultaneously or one of them prevails.


How many people were affected by alexithymia? This is a difficult question, the answer to which still does not exist, because not always individuals turn to psychologists for help, considering their condition to be natural and natural. According to the latest statistics, the syndrome is observed in 5-25% of the world population. A strong discrepancy in figures is also due to the fact that specialists use various diagnostic methods to determine the presence of the disorder and the degree of its severity.

alexithymia is in psychologyIn this case, psychologists say that alexithymia is notis synonymous with complete insensitivity. These people, like the healthy ones, are experiencing, but they are only at a loss to express their inner emotions verbally. Deficiency of external manifestations in them translates into bodily-vegetative reactions: feelings, not finding an outlet, are suppressed, transformed into psychosomatic diseases. If, however, a person suffers from autism, the connection between the intellect and the senses can be completely interrupted and impossible. Therefore, such patients think that the verbs "feel" and "think" are synonyms.


The study of alexithymia is an important task formodern psychologists. So far, some aspects of the syndrome are incomprehensible and unexplored. Despite this, experts were able to identify two forms of violation: primary and secondary. Each of them has a different nature and appearance. Primary alexithymia can be obtained as a result of birth trauma. It also develops due to violations of the intrauterine formation of the brain in the fetus. Appears at an early age. Having noticed something wrong, parents should seek the advice of a neurologist.

Secondary alexithymia is the result of psychologicaltrauma, which is sometimes accompanied by brain dysfunction or neurologic disorders. It can become a manifestation of posttraumatic disorder, increased anxiety or latent depression. Development is influenced, in the first place, by incorrect education: a hyperopeak or, on the contrary, the lack of elementary attention on the part of parents. Primary is practically not treated, with the secondary one can cope.


Alexitimia as a psychological problem hasprimary sources. They become the fertile soil on which the syndrome grows. Difficulties in accessing emotions for verbal expression were explained by numerous researchers who identified three main reasons:

  • Suppression of impulses directed by the limbic system, which is responsible for the senses, to the cortex of the brain.
  • Disruption of communication between the left and right hemispheres: the first of them can not recognize the signals of experiences that are produced in the second.
  • Genetically transmitted defects of the central nervous system.

alexithymia scaleThe concept of alexithymia, as already mentioned,suggests that the violation also arises from incorrect education. A child may lose the ability to express emotions because of imposed stereotypes, for example, "men should not cry" or "expressing feelings in public is indecent." Some scientists also admit: alexithymia can result from a head injury - damage to the corpus callosum, which is responsible for the relationship between the hemispheres.


Alexithymia is a disturbance in a person's emotional functions in psychology. In this regard, the nature of such individuals has some features:

  1. The emerging difficulties with communication, in the process of which people constantly verbally express their feelings, describe a particular state of mind.
  2. Propensity to loneliness. Realizing that he is not like everyone else, a person often becomes isolated in himself, begins to avoid society.
  3. Limited fantasy. Such individuals rarely become artists, artists or designers. They completely lack the capacity for creative activity.
  4. Inability to see bright and colorful dreams.
  5. The presence of good logical thinking, the propensity to synthesis and analysis, the ability to summarize.
  6. Denial of intuition.

the concept of alexithymiaIf a person suffering from aleximia, ask what he feels at this moment, you can hear such answers: "cold," "painful," or "uncomfortable." Such people always confuse emotions with bodily sensations.


When an individual is diagnosed with alexithymia, this ismeans that psychosomatic disorders can be formed in parallel. They refer to two patterns of behavior: denial and deficit. The first involves a strong inhibition of affects, which allows the possibility of reversibility of the syndrome. Although many patients are irreversible and can not be altered even with prolonged therapy. Such people live without imagination and emotions. The deficit model is more adequate. People who choose it are not without feelings, but only some of them, or they express their experiences, but in incomplete form, not completely. Sometimes they are even able to imagine and create.

alexithymia treatmentPsychologists did not finally decide whetheralexithymia situational state or it refers to a stable personality characteristic. Some experts believe that violations only during certain activities, for example, in the process of communicating with an opponent. Left alone, this person is quite capable of expressing his feelings and emotions.


A lot of problems at the physical level causealexithymia: a peptic ulcer, dermatitis, gastritis, colitis, bronchial asthma, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, stroke, atherosclerosis, allergies, migraine and so on. Unexpressed feelings are accumulated inside the consciousness and gradually find an outlet outward in bodily form: the individual has a hormonal background that breaks down, a failure occurs in the work of organs and systems, which causes the aforementioned ailments.

Another consequence of alexithymia isextra pounds and even severe obesity. According to numerous studies, the inability to express feelings quickly transforms into overeating, irregular eating, changing gastronomic flavors in favor of poor-quality and harmful products. At the same time, treatment of the syndrome with obesity is often a problem for doctors. Especially complex cases include the development of alexithymia simultaneously with the addiction of the individual to alcoholism or drug addiction.


Often alexithymia is confused with otherspsychological reactions: depression, cognitive underdevelopment or schizophrenia. Therefore, the question of accurate and professional diagnosis is very relevant nowadays. To determine the presence of the syndrome is helped by the scale of alexithymia, developed by the American scientist Taylor. The questionnaire was translated and adapted in St. Petersburg by specialists from the Psychoneurological Institute named after Vladimir Bekhterev. With its help, more than a hundred patients were examined, as a result of which it was established: patients with a right hemispheric type of brain asymmetry are more unfavorable in terms of treatment.

alexithymia as a psychological problemDiagnosis is also carried out with another scale -Schelling-Sifneos. Doctors use John Kristal's questionnaires, as well as projective techniques, since such people do not have imagination, so their answers are standard and of the same type. Despite this, the application of tests for clinical purposes is difficult, because there are no regulatory data. In addition, physicians do not have enough time to conduct experiments, as well as an unmistakable interpretation of their results.


As noted above, it is difficult to treatprimary alexithymia. At the same time, the secondary, which is a consequence of childhood experiences, can be eliminated with the help of modern methods of influencing the consciousness of the individual. When a person is diagnosed with alexithymia, treatment begins with conventional psychotherapy. Also apply Gestalt therapy, psychodynamic modified techniques, art therapy and hypnosis. The main goal is to teach the patient to express their feelings and emotions.

alexithymia researchMuch attention is paid to the imagination thatpromotes the expansion of the spectrum of emotional manifestations. As for medicines, the scientists did not come to a single conclusion: whether they help or not. Some psychologists note a good effect of using tranquilizers in the presence of psychopathological disorders, such as panic attack. In any case, doctors are sure that treatment should be comprehensive. In this case, a large role in it is played by the patient's close people who meet him, help open up the inner world of the native person, throw out the stream of his suppressed and hidden experiences.

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