C brought up Alexithymia in another post, and holy smokes... it sure seems to be another layer in this insane onion I have been peeling for 7 years. Here is an article about it:
Alexithymia is a trait that makes it hard to find words for thoughts and feelings. It is experienced by both children and adults and can come in mild, moderate and severe forms. When identified, alexithymia can be treated – with the goal of making feelings and their textures easier to navigate.
This talks about that dicsonnecnt between how someone feels - and the inability to EXPRESS those feelings or describe thier feelings. My husband hits nearly every single one of the symptoms. From Scientific American:
Alexithymia is defined by:
- Difficulty identifying different types of feelings (my H - he has never been able to successfully describe his emotions, or understand what he is feeling at the time etc. Its always been very uncomfortable for him to feel emotions of ANY sort)
- Limited understanding of what causes feelings (I dont think he really has any idea of WHY he feels how he does about things, just that he does, and even that he cant really figure out)
- Difficulty expressing feelings (see above, I am pretty sure the ONLY answer I have ever gotten from him is "I dont know, I dont know how to find the words" etc on how he is feeling)
- Difficulty recognizing facial cues in others (He for sure has NO CLUE on how I am feeling about stuff sometimes, and I know he cant tell about others too on a regular basis)
- Limited or rigid imagination (I have often wondered if there is anything inside at all, he never shares anything with me, and from what I can see - is not able to use his imagination to envision success or solutions or anything like that. I dont think he has any sort of "dreams" in the same sense of having goals and visions to strive for - he has zero ambition or drive to accomplish ANYTHING at all)
- Constricted style of thinking (OH MAN... for sure this... he is unable and unwilling to even consider other points of view or other ideas, even things brought up by professionals..)
- Hypersensitive to physical sensations (He doesnt like to be touched. I am not allowed to touch him with out him initiating it. Can you imagine how hard this has been for so many years to not even be able to HUG him just because I want to?)
- Detached or tentative connection to others (I am pretty sure that he would be happiest alone, never seeing anyone unless they are providing him a service of some sort or that he is getting something out of it)
Suddenly so much makes sense. Here is an online questionaire - http://www.alexithymia.us/test-alex.html
I took it using my "assumption" of my husbands answers - some I know for sure, some were guesses. I am confident that i got dammed close to how he would answer and the result was 151 points - a "high alexithymic traits" result.
Here are the treatments that Scientific American talks about:
Courtesy of Deborah Serani
Treatments for Alexithymia
If you love a child or adult with alexithymia, realize that the missed cues, flat reactions or lack of emotional recognition have real neurobiological and psychological origins. Don’t punish, shame or mock their emotional unresponsiveness. Instead, practice patience. Consider explaining your needs in briefer terms, “I’m feeling tired, I don’t want to cook. Let’s get take-out for dinner.” Or helping them label emotions, “You look angry. Is something bothering you?” Help raise their awareness of triggers or stressors that are bubbling to the surface, “You have your SAT’s soon, are you feeling anxious?” Realizing that your loved one may not speak, hear or sense the same emotional language as you can help when conflicts or misunderstandings take place.
If you live with alexithymia, the goal is to strengthen your ability to identify and understand feelings. Teaching yourself about the subjective experiences of others will be important too. Keep in mind that stretching and learning emotional awareness can be a very challenging journey. Here are some ways to broaden your skills:
Journaling: Studies show that expressive writing can be helpful in stretching one’s ability to detect emotions . Generally, it’s recommended to write everyday in a journal, going beyond listing the events of the day. In the beginning this will be hard for those who have thymia. But the goal is to broaden the range of your observations within and outside of yourself.
Reading Novels: The language of describing thoughts, feelings, moments and experiences is literally found in novels. Studies suggest this is a great way to learn expressive language, develop the muscle of receptive language and gain mastery in how to describe a story or personal narrative .
The Expressive Arts: Taking a more formal approach with an acting, dance, art, music or movement therapy class has been shown to help those with alexithymia recognize and externalize feelings . Try signing up for courses offered in adult and child education in your town, community programs or college workshops. Consider private sessions with a licensed creative arts or dance movement therapist.
Skill-Based Psychotherapy Treatments: This is a short form of psychotherapy that aims to teach through skill building. Treatments like Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Mindfulness Training and Short Term Interpersonal Therapy will teach you how to be more attentive to personal feeling states and how to identify emotions in others .
Group Psychotherapy: The interactive aspect of group therapy can offer children and adults ways to explore their own thoughts and feelings as well as experience meaningful exchanges with others. This mode of psychotherapy also deepens a sense of connectedness with others .
Hypnosis and Relaxation Training: While most psychotherapies utilize talking as a way to reduce alexithymic symptoms, hypnosis and relaxation training look towards guided imagery and mentalizations to help enhance emotional understanding . Seek out relaxation training workshops in your community, and always work with a licensed hypnotist when using hypnosis treatment for alexithymia.
I posted this hoping that it might help some of us here understand the apathy issues we face. Thanks again C for bringing it to my attention....