To begin with, it is one thing not to be able to, or have difficulty at times, verbally expressing how you feel.  There is a term for it called Alexithymia.  According to the Wiki link, it is a “personality trait.”  However, since it can affect so many people in, shall we say, a “broad spectrum” it is making me think of the word “antibiotic.”  An “antiverbalotic?” Therefore, I am renaming it as a “psychological phenomenon.”  For some reason, I’ve always had “a thing” with “traits” and “characteristics,” but that is just me.

It is notably found in people with Asperger’s and others on the Spectrum.  However, as above, we on the Spectrum are not the only folks that can fly the Alexithymia Flag.  Although, I know I have been waving it as a huge banner all of my life.

I even brought it up with a therapist several years ago and she dismissed it like a dust bunny in the corner of her office.  I would have persisted but you see, I couldn’t express how I felt! *wry grin*

She was an idiot, anyway.  In more ways than one.

I know for me, I have found myself in a position many times where I have made proclamations about the situation, rather than the self.

Here is a snippet from the Wiki link:

According to Henry Krystal, individuals suffering from alexithymia think in an operative way and may appear to be superadjusted to reality.

A very simplistic example of this would be:

Q: So, how does that (x event that has caused me distress) make you feel, PA?

A: Man, it really sucks.

NOTE: There is no personal reference to me or to the self.  There is no: “…I am so…it makes me so…oh, boo hoo…my heart is breaking into shards…etc…”  I said “it,” meaning the situation sucks.  I think you get it.

Or, an even more complex or detailed example? How did I blog about my last hospitalization where they treated me so horribly and one would think I should have been bleeding all over the screen? No.  If memory serves, I wrote in a completely detached manner, like a news reporter, except for using a boatload of profanity not found in mainstream media?

Here’s another snippet from the Wiki link and it may show how I always joke that Aspies and HFA’s etc… may not do so well in therapy.  It is similar to they way I blogged about my hospital stay.  Also, I think I can really do this too! My blog is probably littered with posts like these; I am pretty sure I talk like this…

In psychotherapy, however, a cognitive disturbance becomes apparent as the patients tends to recount trivial, chronologically ordered actions, reactions, and events of daily life with monotonous detail.

I also use a lot of “logic” to deal with my emotions.  I think we all can “understand” (even logically) that doesn’t work.  However, that hardly stops me from doing it! Much less to an extreme degree!

Another snippet from some ways of manifestation of Alexithymia, and it displays what I have described of myself above:

and concrete, realistic, logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems.

So, what does that mean, then? I am trying to be some kind of robot? Well, as much as I may like to try, but let’s not take this Alexithymia business too far.  In fact, it can be very frustrating! Hey.  Did you just read that? A word that was (or representative of) a feeling! Plus the above: “…often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems.”

Now that is where some pain can enter the picture!   That is, if the pain of it all hasn’t hit you already! It is not like people with Alexithymia are just floating around, oblivious to all feelings and emotions exactly like robots! No, not at all!

Another snippet:

A common misconception about alexithymia is that affected individuals are totally unable to express emotions verbally and that they may even fail to acknowledge that they experience emotions. Even before coining the term, Sifneos (1967) noted patients often mentioned things like anxiety or depression. The distinguishing factor was their inability to elaborate beyond a few limited adjectives such as “happy” or “unhappy” when describing these feelings.[19] The core issue is that alexithymics have poorly differentiated emotions limiting their ability to distinguish and describe them to others.[1] This contributes to the sense of emotional detachment from themselves and difficulty connecting with others, making alexithymia negatively associated with life satisfaction even when depression and other confounding factors are controlled for.[20]

Some of that may be rather “brushstroke” in interpretive value, as we are all individuals.  However, it does drive certain, relevant points home.  There are no absolutes with this issue, so we can only attempt to gain as much understanding as possible.

I do know though, that when I can verbalize my feelings, when I can “get them out,” what is even more painful?

When the people won’t listen.

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  1. lili

    That is the most important part: WHEN PEOPLE DON’T LISTEN. I break myself attempting to listen for a variety of reasons and there are times when talking with people can be like running full on into a brick wall.

    I often repeat myself, then rephrase it a ton of ways, then finally snap and say inappropriate things to the tune of what f*cking part of this is confusing to you? Then I find what I say wasn’t relevant at all because the other person (my old therapist etc) only heard what was comfortable to her and only spoke her thoughts according to her views. Nothing I said mattered. (“Crazy people are stupid and irrational thus not worthy of being listened to” I believe was her internal thought process).

    Anyhoo…

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  2. Hi lili. OMG. It sounds like your therapist and mine were twins separated at birth! She refused the Alexithymia when I brought it up (as above) and she also refused to speak about any of my diagnoses.

    She told me that either:

    a) She didn’t know anything about that.

    or

    b) When I brought them up, it was my “red herring” when I didn’t want to talk about other things…

    Oh. Really, now? My dx’s are a big part of what impacts my life. Maybe?

    We almost came to blows as I accused her of not letting me talk about what I wanted to talk about during my therapy sessions??? I ditched her.

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  3. lili

    Lol you were better than me. I tolerated it for a year while crying throughout the sessions then finally ditched her. My pdoc after that was very nice but didn’t listen either. He only listened when I was in crisis.

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  4. Well, you see lili, that’s the whole gist of being an Aspie in therapy even though I didn’t have the dx. then. It was thoroughly pointless.

    I would go for my half hour sessions and just sit there, not knowing what to say. We’d just keep going around in circles, spinning our wheels and wasting time.

    I don’t think I could even hazard a guess of how many times I answered, “I don’t know” to all of her questions!

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  5. lili

    Lol mine mostly was quiet(as I was hysterically crying)and bitchy when I did speak. My next doc better act right or I’m gonna have so many flip outs that you’re going to see me on the news.Worldwide. lol.

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  6. Oooh…lili going all mental on the news! Internationally and in Full Technicolour!

    Can you do a 3D version for me too, please?

    And let me know when it’s going to be aired so I can make sure I’ll be home.

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  7. lili

    It’ll probably be a Christmas release so I’ll make sure to even add an HD version to the 3D version. I may do foreign subtitles. Oh yes definitely I’ll let you know in advance :)

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  8. Awesome, lili! Thanks! Another thing to add to my “Christmas List!” A DVD all packaged up of you going nuts!

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  9. lili

    Well if I feel better you might actually get one of me getting arrested for stalking the fabulous Jason Momoa and Grace Park even earlier. We’ll see if I’ve the fortitude to earn that restraining order and strait jacket lol. I’m a disgrace to the celebrity stalkers union. Laziness is a bitch but I’ll do my best :)

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  10. I have now idea about that term, nice to lear a new word. You cracked me up with your invented word.
    It makes sense for asperger to be related with this afliction because one of the problem people with asperger have is in the field of relationships, which in my opinion include the way you relate to yourself. Relating to yourself includes your inner dialogue that can define and analize what is emotionally going on in your brain.
    Your therapist was a complete ashole, had no brain. I think that you can learn to improve that imparment, One of the things that help me a lot in my own therapy is learning to detect, identify and communicate my inner states.

    Dealing logically with emotions would be like learning theorically to swim.

    I know that is painfull when people do not listen but you should be to learn to listen to your self, and that on the long run should be enough audience.

    How ironic that you have so strong emotions and feelings but you can not attach them to the verbal discourse you have of your life. Well maybe you can not attach them because they are too strong and disturb too much.

    By the way how ironic that I dedicate myself to linguistic, and I am specializing myself in sentiment detection in verbal contents. If you want me I can send you a list of words that indicate that you are expressing an emotion in you discourse (just kidding).
    Read my post, is exactely about that subject:http://singyourownlullaby.blogspot.com/2009/08/opinion-mining-and-sentiment-analysis.html

    Hope you get better, and have hope yourself
    M

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  11. Ari

    Ensue exploding heads

    As hard as this topic is to get my head around. I can understand not being able to express yourself. I mix up my words all the time and I’ll lose a thought in the middle of talking. My mind will just go “poof!” Makes conversations difficult.

    And of course listening is key. If the other person isn’t listening what’s the point of talking? unless you like to hear yourself talk, which I may or may not have been accused of.

    I do think therapy could work with the right therapist. There has to be some therapist somewhere that understands the Aspie way of life and therefore can effectively understand you. Now where this wonder-therapist may be, I have no idea, but I’m sure it exists.

    Okay, I’ve completely lost track of where I’m going with this comment so let me just end by saying “keep fighting the good fight”

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  12. Hi lili. True enough. There are more ways than one to get arrested. Too lazy to do it though? Well, your moods may help you get there. By the way, I’ve been in a straitjacket before. They’re awesome. And not in a psych setting. *rolls eyes*

    In all seriousness, though, I did write a post about it tying (bad pun) it into Temple Grandin’s work. Here it is:

    https://patientanonymous.wordpress.com/2007/01/23/bound-and-less-determined/

    It was funny, as there was another blogger on the scene (bad pun again) back then, where we were talking about just how I would put the two together–my BDSM “interests” and Grandin’s work!

    Hi mariana. Thank you for coming by to read this one. It makes me happy when you read me. Thank you as well for liking the word I made up. You know me and how I like to play with words, right?

    I like your take on almost the “reversal” of social cues and understanding for someone with Asperger’s. It is sort of like, not having social cues with yourself. I am going to have to think about that one.

    *laughing* My therapist had no brain! You always make me laugh, do you know that?

    My inner states? Well, now. I don’t think I have so much a problem detecting them and identifying them–again, the problem lies in the communication.

    However, my inner states may be highly “situational-based” and because of that, or even singularly, “highly-fluctuational.” That could also have something to do with all of my comorbidities. I have multiple diagnoses, so what may be going on may be so much more complicated.

    That may be another form of things being “situational-based.” It could be an or the outer stimulus (an event or trigger) and then which diagnosis or even diagnoses react to it.

    Then…that adds another element to things being “highly-fluctuational.” Because if more of my diagnoses are reacting to the stimulus, there is more to deal with.

    Does that make sense?

    I think I am also subject to a lot of denial. Well, perhaps struggling with denial at times. I will recognize something that I wish to change (like an inner state) but I can’t change it! However, we may be entering different territory here, as this post was about communication–not traits or characteristics etc… (or me just being completely crazy on my own!)

    Regarding my strong emotions and “real life,” when I was a child, I had so much empathy for people (even strangers!) it physically made me sick! I would cry, it would hurt so much. It got to a point where I just shut down. It is only recently that I have been able to cry again. I have written about this on my blog.

    Plus, there is the bullshit about Aspies not having empathy–a post I want to write about in the future. Not true!

    Sure, send me a list! *sticks tongue out at mariana* Actually, that could be pretty funny. Hey, you know I love words, anyway. I could tell you which ones apply to me!

    And thanks for the link but I beat you to it! I already got to your blog before I read your comment here!

    I was thinking about it, though. I don’t know anything about the architecture and building what is needed, so that is where I don’t think I can offer much. I was more thinking along the lines of mental perception as you know that is how my brain works. I can’t do what you do. There is no way on earth I could delve deeper into the mining and analysis required. That is where I really became stuck on questions #3 and #4?

    Then I felt altogether stupid and thought, why bother with questions #1 and #2!

    Thanks, hon’.

    Hi Ari. Is all of this making your head explode? Sorry. I should send you some links to some of the posts where I’ve had some fun with medical studies. Oh, I think my favourite was the one where they said they were going to approve Topomax (one of my Anticonvulsants) as a treatment for alcoholism!!!

    Oh, yeah…alcoholism! My wine! *laughing* Let me go check the temperature. Well, not bad for temperature so I just took a wine and cigarette break. Let me find that study and see if it is “link worthy,” here. If anything, it might give you guys a laugh?

    Fuck. I’m adding it! I had to make some alterations as it was written in 2007. The msn.com link is now dead and gone. If you read my reference to “AP,” that means the Associated Press. I think the link to the JAMA article was there too, so that is gone as well. Soooo, you just get my bare bones post.

    I still think you’ll like it though! However, it may make your head explode more Ari!

    mariana might like it though? I haven’t done this kind of stuff in ages. I miss it. It was back when I was more into the medical blogosphere. I keep saying…I’m going to go back one of these days…

    https://patientanonymous.wordpress.com/2007/10/10/so-for-all-you-heavy-drinkers-that-may-be-addicted-and-want-to-quit-get-yourself-some-topamax/

    I understand too, Ari, about messing up words and things. I do it constantly. That’s a different issue for me altogether, though. Very Spectrum and perhaps to do with my Anticonvulsants as well. Even still, I know what you are “saying.” *rolls eyes*

    Liking to hear yourself talk. Well, I’m always here to listen. Know that.

    True enough about some therapist that may understand an Aspie. Merlin #2 understands, he just doesn’t provide therapy and that is understandable as most Psychs. don’t for their patients. That was one part that was so bad about losing Merlin #1. We were just starting out, trying to establish a therapeutic relationship. Therapy has always been so hard for me and he did offer it. Hell, he even did Psychoanalysis!

    Not to worry about losing track, but thanks. However, as far as losing track, I’ve given you a really good challenge with at least the Topamax link! And sure, read the BDSM/Grandin one, too!

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  13. Ari

    I have now read both links.

    The BDSM one was interesting. The other one was a little much for my currently ADD addled mind. So I didn’t make it through. Not that I officially have ADD but it cam up as a possiblity in my last appointment.

    But as far as what you mentioned in the BDSM linked blog of the past. When I was younger I used to pile all of my stuffed animals (and I had a freakin museum!) on top of me when I went to bed. So yeah i get it.

    Ok, again don’t know where else i’m going. I’m either ADDing it out or hypomanic, don’t know it really matters, lol.

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  14. Hi Ari. If you can get to the other one, that’s fine. If not, that’s fine, too.

    Yes, the BDSM/Grandin one does make a lot of sense when you think about it, doesn’t it–at least within the context–for those to whom it would apply.

    I hear you on the ADD vs. Bipolar thing, as well. I used to get them confused but I think now I know that being ADD Inattentive Type, if I start to get a bit hyper, it could be some Bipolar business going on.

    That is because I am pretty much missing most of the the “H” in ADHD.

    Either way, let me know what comes up with the ADD stuff since it did arise as a possibility during your appt.

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