Topic: How do I know if I have alexithymia?

English Alexithymia Forum > Personal Experience

How do I know if I have alexithymia?
17.07.2015 by Entropic

I relate to some things such as overall poor emotional awareness and lack of daydreaming and I got a score of 117 on the test but I wonder how accurate it is because I couldn't genuinely answer most of the questions.

Also, I can pinpoint most basal emotions that I experience and do it while I experience them, especially if it's related to anger. I always know when I'm angry for example, or why I'm angry or what makes me angry though I tend to focus more on the anger in itself as a feeling, than I do the feelings that may underlie it.

I was told by a psychologist about a year ago that I seem to lack a language to express my emotions, but I also write a lot of poetry to express what I feel and have been since I was very young (I wrote my first poem when I was 8 years old). I find that the problem with my emotions is that I experience them very deeply when I do experience things, and words seem to lack meaning or don't quite suffice to express what I do feel when I do feel things. I relate the easiest to music, and I have a lot of songs that represent or reflect my various feeling states in this way. I can easily identify feelings in relation to music. This is something other people around me don't seem to do or relate to much, not to the degree and finesse that I do it.

My current partner does complain about that I seem to be emotionally unavailable in that I am poor at expressing my emotions and sense of intimacy towards her verbally. I rather do it through my actions and via physical touch, but we are in an LDR so those options are not possible for us. Part of the problem is that expressing what I do feel makes me feel very vulnerable (I know, ironic that I bring this up in this way), and it took time for me to even acknowledge and admit as much. I mean, if I were to describe it, it's more like a squeezy feeling anyway. I recognize and can identify this best correlates to a sense of vulnerability but usually it's like, I guess I can recognize how I feel, but putting those into words... A different problem. It's like they are too abstract, complex and complicated and as I wrote, words don't always suffice. I often also seem to hesitate to put feelings into words, like I know that a certain feeling state best correlates to a certain word but I am hesitant to call them such and almost always seem to implicitly express that it's kind of like that, but not quite.

I am currently seeing a therapist though we are on a summer break now so I won't meet her until next month, where I am working through emotional trauma and the like because I repress my emotions a lot. I do consider myself a logical person but I don't really seem to emphasis logic to such a degree that others do in here when they describe themselves, nor do I relate much to that part of the description on wikipedia, and too much logic from others with a repression of feeling is honestly off-putting to me. The problem with my experiences is that even when I do recognize what I feel, it tends to be in a rather shallow way. I can for example have streaks of melancholia which seems to be a somewhat innate trait that I have. This melancholia is also usually the source of most of my poetry and art. However, even when I do feel sad as I do when I am feeling melancholic, this sadness doesn't quite fully tap into the true sadness and loss that I feel in relation to the traumas I have experienced. I've come to realize it's rather shallow and superficial.

A lot of the work I do with my therapist is that she's trying to help me pinpoint my feelings better and to better reflect on my feelings about certain things, and it seems to me that I can articulate my feelings if I'm just reminded to think about them in that way. Otherwise I tend to be rather detached, for the lack of a better way to describe it. I understand events factually and can recall and recount them as such. I often sometimes, I think, purposefully remove the feeling aspect of the information I convey, because it makes me more comfortable. Again, certain feelings make me squeezy in the sense of feeling vulnerable.

Usually, the way I understand myself and my own defense mechanisms, is that I often put feelings on the side in order to get through a tough time or similar. Feelings are disruptive and interfere with my ability to get through my day, especially if they are highly volatile or negative in character. I do not understand positive feelings much; I can't say I think I have experienced them much. Happiness, for example, it's eh to me. I understand what it is and I have a faint idea of being in good moods, but I identify happiness or being in a good mood almost more as the absence of being in a bad mood, and I can recognize when I am in a bad mood sometimes.

My girlfriend is very good with feelings and she helps to tell me how I feel, because she sometimes know and can recognize my feelings states better than I do myself. It has happened that she has said stuff like "you feel such now" and I'm like, What? How?

I do not have autism or other kinds of personality disorders. Based on looking over on what I write, if I do have alexithymia, it has to be so mild it does not pose any real problems to me in my daily life, and a lot of what I wrote doesn't quite seem to fit the criteria? Anyway, what do I know. I am not really in a position to pursue whether I have alexithymia or not right now. It only came as a secondary thought because I brought up my lack of daydreaming and I do not honestly understand what daydreaming is or what it really entails. I find it kind of boring, superfluous and needless as an activity in that regard, the few times I've been encouraged to try anyway. Since lack of daydreaming is usually associated with alexithymia, I guess I figured maybe that explains it, since I read that up to 96% of the population does daydream. There has to be some kind of cause why I don't.

Not necessarily black and white
17.07.2015 _T('by') Alan1945

Hi Entropic - As I understand it, Alexi is not something you have or don't have - it's not that cut and dried. Everyone probably has some amount of Alexi, but some people are more along the Alexi line than others. If you scored 117 then maybe you have a small amount of it; perhaps it only affects you in a limited number of ways or in certain circumstances. If you had scored, say, 150, it would most likely affect you more often and to a greater extent. It's sort of like height - a 6 foot person is neither tall nor short - it depends on the comparison. Short against a basketball star, tall against a pygmy. The important thing is to be yourself and to learn about yourself and your responses, and in particular to learn how your responses impact on other people. That can allow you to better control your responses or at least be aware of how another person is likely to respond to your response or lack thereof. Hope that's of some use.

I know
17.07.2015 _T('by') Entropic

I understand it's not black and white and that as with all things personality, it comes in a spectrum. However, the diagnostic criteria have to be drawn somewhere, and that is what I am referring to.

black and white
28.07.2015 _T('by') Tjerk

A diagnosis can be an obstacle in the treatment. I do not think it is important to put a label on it in your case; just be aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Your symptoms seem to be an explanation of your problems, rather than being your problem itself. You may be rather low on empathy and have some difficulty in expressing your affection. Such things run in the family. They can be learned and apparently you are on the right track. Don't worry!

Turn inward
04.08.2015 _T('by') DXS

Right now, I am turning inward. I am trying to "connect" to what I feel. I still can't "name" it on demand. I still can't "react" right away.

I recently lost my cat (17 years old). I cried, I reacted, but it took me awhile to "name" the reaction as sadness.