When you got graduated from high school, or moved to a new house, you certainly felt so happy. This ‘feeling’ is the issue here. Many people do not feel anything at all. Have you ever experienced this? It seems like you have no emotional side. Have you seen the TV Show ‘Dexter’, the guy does not feel anything, but he is trying to imitate the others to look normal. That is a real issue, and people do actually have lack of emotions. Some people may, in fact, lose one emotion or more, such as feeling happy, sad, sorry, or anything else.
A friend of me told me once that his wedding was nothing, but a simple event where everyone is around; he felt nothing about it. He said that even when he lost his mom, he felt that his body is very heavy, and felt the blood floods to his face, but he felt no sad, sorrow, grief, or anything that usually people feel in such situations. This lack of feelings is what we know as Alexithymia. It is a health disorder as well, but the problem in it is that it may causes troubles in life. It may even lead to serious symptoms and complications: in the person’ characteristics.
Autistic people may develop alexithymia. The studies suggest that over fifty percent of autism cases have alexithymia. In other part, people with alexithymia may not necessarily have any chance to become autistic.
Let’s understand how we feel first!
In order to understand this issue, we have to understand how feelings and emotions occur. When you see someone you love, your brain releases several chemicals and hormones that raise the level of blood flow and causes your heart to beat fast. When you feel angry, your brain focuses on raising the level of blood in your face (as an evolutionary character that expresses readiness to fight), which makes your face red. And so on, the emotions and feelings keep occur through your brain’s functions.
When you want to express what you feel; sad, angry, happy, in love, or anything else, both parts of your brain should cooperate and communicate. One part is where those feelings are released and the other is where ‘language’ is made; the language that let you understand what you have inside and express it in ‘speaking’ or other methods of expressing.
Let’s understand the Alexithymia!
When alexithymia was first diagnosed in the early seventies of the twentieth century, Doctors, scientists, and researchers suggested that the issue happens due to lack or extremely weak communication between the two parts of the brain. The person who gets alexithymia may have emotions happening inside his body, but he does not understand it or does not ‘feel’ it. The nervous signs do not send information about feelings to the part of the brain that can translate that into his understanding and awareness.
The two parts of the brain that we know as hemispheres have different functions when it comes to such things in the human body. Doctors tried to cure epilepsy once through cutting the communication between the two hemispheres. As a result, the epilepsy’s symptoms could obviously improve, but the patients had another new severe symptom, which is emotions blindness. They become unable to understand what they feel.
Later, while studying this issue (Alexithymia) some scientists did a scan to the brain of people who suffer alexithymia. They found that those people have abnormal nervous transmitters that link the two hemispheres. They believe that this issue is the responsible for emotions blindness and some inability and hardship in communicating and understanding the ‘other’.
Nowadays, we have more than one particular alexithymia case; for example, there are people who are incapable of expressing what they feel in words, while others are not even aware they have feelings inside. It might be similar to the condition of blind people whose eyes are completely healthy and normal, but they cannot see due to damages or troubles within the visual cortex.
The same thing may happen in the case of alexithymia; due to damages or problems in the neural circuits, such people may be incapable of transmitting their feelings to their consciousness and become aware of it.
The fMRI (Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging) results could clearly show the flaw and dysfunction in the level of cognitive and consciousness of people who suffer alexithymia. The results contained the lack of green matter in a part of the brain known as Cingulate Cortex. This part is responsible for the person’s awareness of himself; consciousness and knowledge. The problem in this part would obviously lead to serious effects in emotions communication and control. Besides, they contained some troubles in the areas that are associated with attention, which affect the brain’s record of feelings and test.
What is the good about Alexithymia that many people say they want it for?
Some people may hope that they get alexithymia for its one and only good thing; ability to get over painful experiences. The pain of losing someone, breaking up in a strong relationship, losing a dream job, or other experiences may non-stand-able. That is why alexithymia may help; in a while, you will forget all about it and you will have no emotional memory that will cause you troubles in life later. Unfortunately, this means also losing the good happy emotional memories as well. Yet, some people may wish to get it, because pain is too severe.
The health disorders that associated with alexithymia:
The study found that people who suffer alexithymia have some particular health disorders that may occur in the same time or as consequences of the condition. Those disorders may include appetite loss, schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, severe chronic pains, and many other nervous conditions.
The effects of alexithymia might be related to the other conditions through emotional, psychological, and physical links. The damages and dysfunctions that occur due to alexithymia may cause other nervous disorders, and the same thing for the effects of pressing the feelings together.
However, there is always hope that doctors would soon discover the exact cause of this condition, which shall help improve it without any trouble. Yet, there are some suggests that the cause of it may be relevant to family history (genetic). Besides, environment and social life may also affect the person’s understanding of feelings and emotions. In other cases, the cause may be related to a very serious trauma that leads to damages in brain and mental health. Autism is also a cause as we mentioned above; fifty percent of autistic people have a kind or another of alexithymia.