Topic: Communication with/by alexithymiacs: best practices?

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Communication with/by alexithymiacs: best practices?
16.11.2020 by User21255O82

My sister and I live in different countries. She likes/emotionally needs to stay in touch. Even though I don't experience such a need, we regularly talk. My motivation is the desire to not cause distress, probably coupled with some kind of loyalty.

In our talks, her prime interest is my well-being. I'd like to put her at ease, but I'm incapable to satisfy her interest (when asked e.g. how I feel, I simply don't know the answer; also I'm highly opposed to fabricate answers). So our talks primarily focus on current events or philosophical topics. Here, however, another problem kicks in: my sister is of normal intelligence, whereas mine is higher. This means I unintentionally yet often cause frustration by discussing topics too fast/too much in-depth (I keep trying to be superficial but it's hard for me to recognize when a line of thought no longer is obvious).

We both recognize the (at least some) gaps and want to bridge them, but so far with little success. Currently our "research topic" is on best practices regarding communication with/by alexithymiacs (or more specific: asperger-like personalities).

Does anyone have any pointers/insights?

16.11.2020 by User61433B90

I should be the last person to give advice!

But here goes nothing.

There is a communication gap between different levels of IQ. Mainly discussion gets hard with 30 points of difference (quite large gap, but still there)

That ain't much but coupled with the fact that you speak to her not out of interest but out of wanting to give her attention, (which is my reason too) makes it more difficult because there is no real driving factor for the conversation. But usually, eventually me and my sister find a topic that we can discuss about, usually about politics (make fun of immigration policies and the feel-good politicians behind them) or some other comical issue. Luckily we are on the same spectre politically and it happens live while we are doing some other tasks, so the silent moments are not so bad.

I sometimes enjoy talking with her, once the issue is not something superficial, which is roughly saying, the starting point of every discussion.

First advise, even if you see clear faults in her reasoning, do not accuse her of it but try to present an example how to make the best decision. People do not like to be told what to do specifically unless they asked it in the first place.

My communication is quite cold but it seems everybody including my sister has used to it.
I do not think I am higher IQ than she is, but just being analytical and looking from outside in sometimes brings more ideas.

Also, let her lead the conversation and prepare some sidetracking questions of some nice topic to move on to if you think conversation is struggling. Her hobby / dinner / car / etc.

People can often be diverted to whole another topic in a discussion and they do not either notice it or are just fine with it.

I also tune out very often when we are talking about something mundane. But I keep track of what the subject is and can reply back with talking points once it is my turn to talk again.


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Alexithymia - emotional blindness - is a personality trait characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions in the self. Core characteristics of alexithymia are marked dysfunction in emotional awareness, social attachment, and interpersonal relationship.
Alexithymia is prevalent in approximately 10% of the general population and is known to be comorbid with a number of psychiatric conditions. Due the inability to cope with feelings and emotions as described in psychology there are counseling services to establish mental health.
Psychologist have argued that the alexithymia construct is strongly related to the concepts of psychological mindedness and emotional intelligence.
These pages should deliver additional information about Alexithymia and offer information for affected persons, relatives and people generally interested in this personality trait.

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