Topic: What if you have alexi traits WITH empathy?

English Alexithymia Forum > Personal Experience

What if you have alexi traits WITH empathy?
12.02.2015 by sometimes

One thing people often say about me is that I'm very "astute" - I'm very good at understanding what is going on inside a person in order to figure out their motivations. I don't know if I've always been good at this, I don't remember being good at it as a child, but I seem to pick up easily on cues in other people and even if someone just describes a pattern of behaviour in someone I haven't met, I find it easy to explain why they're behaving the way they are. I'm also good at the "reading emotions in people's eyes" test which you sometimes find on the internet.

I don't know if this actually is real 'empathy', as although I have a gut sense for what another person is feeling at the time I see it - and sometimes I feel what they are feeling even if I don't know how to describe it - I also misjudge what people will feel. For years, I did not tell anyone when they criticised me (i.e. didn't stand up for myself) because I assumed that if I did so they would feel bad about themselves and that the pain might be untolerable. I didn't want to do that to them, so I kept my mouth shut. I now understand that this is how I experience the world - I am easily shamed - but other people are more resilient and I don't need to worry about their feelings so much.

I did not realise until I entered non-cognitive therapy (i.e. psychotherapy and counselling) that I did not know how I felt. I could say 'good' and 'bad' (and it was usually bad), but I didn't know how to identify the feelings themselves. I eventually managed to start identifying feelings by describing images that seemed to metaphorically resemble the feeling. I was aware of a bodily sensation, and I would say 'it feels like a bird with its wings spread that is about to take off', for example. Now that I am a bit better at identifying emotions, I would describe that feeling as 'free', but at the time I wouldn't have been able to put a word to it.

For years, I suffered from psychosomatic symptoms severe enough to basically halt my life. A doctor once told me the physical sensations - generally very extreme fatigue - were probably emotional responses but I wasn't aware of my emotions. I agree with this.

Another point - I have a good imagination and it's always been a strong point in me. I have written fiction since I can remember, I've always had an interest in it, and now I work as a writer. As a kid, I spent most of my life in daydream.

So....I don't fit...and there doesn't seem to be any other term to describe not knowing what your own feelings are or why they are there, and not feeling them particularly intensely, whilst actually having a fairly good understanding of other people and a good imagination.

Any others like me or do you want to point me in the direction of something that explains this?


"don't fit" is in the normal range
18.02.2015 _T('by') Fiona

I think that any feeling of "don't fit" is normal - a profile of any condition is necessarily of the most common types represented, so there must also be a range of less common types that "don't fit" the profile.

I also feel extreme fatigue at times, due to emotional state. I suspect this is because I was trained as a kid not to complain, thus having something, anything physical was a substitute for not being allowed to express any problems verbally. Actually childhood training led me to becoming very withdrawn as that was the only response that wasn't followed by punishment. It wasn't followed by approval either - nothing was.

Being sensitive to others is also deeply annoying, when I finally cottoned on that I would show sensitivity, but others would not. I put this down to an upbringing, where children are taught how to feel guilty and not that people should all be treating each other with respect.

I have had therapy previously, which had to stop when I could no longer afford it. I am currently reading about emdr, which sounds like a positive way forward for people with repressed emotions, or indeed with a range of issues. Next year, when I am in a more financially stable situation, I will be looking for a qualified emdr therapist. The book on emdr that I'm reading is "Getting Past Your Past" by Francine Shapiro, PhD. It has a number of helpful tips for things to try, while awaiting therapy, as well as explaining its approach and why that is so different to other types of therapy. A friend of mine put me onto it, after saying how it helped him.

Empathetic but unable to identify personal emotions
03.04.2015 _T('by') Jordan

I've always been withdrawn, averted to physical contact, raised not to complain or talk about my feelings. When I was 5 I was molested which left me with nothing but the ability to compartmentalise and learning how to read people based on patterns I could find in their behaviours. My psychotherapist diagnosed me with Generalized anxiety disorder, depression, misophonia, ocd, panic disorder, PTSD, selective mutism (though it's not really selected more like situational...), synthesesia, and the latest addition: alexithymia. I scored 156 on the self test which is borderline severe traits.

People mostly understand that im not as cold as I seem, im just unable to identify my emotions and translate them into the proper actions or words. I can pick up on patterns and mimic efficiently which makes me toldrable in social situations, and my ability to deeply empathise (but not be able to respond correctly of that makes sense) helps as well but i suppose im just curious as to whether or not other alexis have these dilemmas?

*side note: synthesesia and misophonia are sensory disorders in which the senses 'overlap' and some sounds trigger panic attaxks or rage. My synthesesia allows emotions to be a colour and sound, sounds and written words to be translated into colours, and sensations such as temperature or a breeze, also taste can be a sound. This prevents me from thinking in 'words' which no doubt attributes to part of my difficulty identifying and placing my thoughts into words. (I have a packet with the colour and sound that I point to when I get too stuck).

Does anyone else have these problems? If so, please elaborate as to how you have overcome or coped with them.

I learned to be astute
05.04.2015 _T('by') DXS

I have developed an "astuteness" for empathy. I seem to be more in tune with it than most people. I just cannot identify my own emotions.

On empathy
15.06.2015 _T('by') Bobby421

I am very empathetic and can identify with others pain too. I often held back not wanting to hurt the other person. If I care for the person, I cannot comfort them, my body and mind do not work all of a sudden and I stand there like a fool. I think because it obviously raises my emotional level too high so I cannot express the empathy. I can say I love you but cannot describe how it feels. I can say I am sorry, but my mind will not form words to speak to explain the regret. The feelings are there but I am unable to express them. Often the only thing I can do is just walk away and give up feeling helpless.