It is a real pleasure to introduce Dr. Walter Guedin, a great professional and better friend, as our guest blogger for the second time. Dottore Ghedin, avanti!
Alexitimia: the disappearance of emotions?
Alexitimia, the clinical inability to identify emotions, includes the following:
- Incapacity to identify the emotions and to differentiate them from the physical sensations.
- Incapacity to express, communicate and describe the feelings.
- Incapacity to imagine, fantasize and to build abstract concepts.
- Concrete, operational and practical thinking.
Since ancient times, the emotional realm has been a major preoccupation for the philosophers, physicians, psychologists, poets and for concerned citizens as the slightest human act is always tainted with some emotional overtones. In order to clarify our discussion, we must define these basic concepts:
- Emotions: sudden, intense and sweeping. Ex: fear, hate, passion.
- Feelings: states more subdued than emotions. Ex: love, sadness.
- Affection: subjective feeling that accompanies an idea or a memory.
- Mood; the baseline, individualized emotional status of a person,
It was first identified by Peter Sifneos in 1972 as a result of investigating patients with psychosomatic diseases that could not express emotions with words. It is more common in men than in women as the feminine gender has more inter-connecting neuronal fibers between the right and left hemispheres. The right hemisphere of the brain “receives the sensorial input” of the affective states and the left hemisphere “recognizes them and gives them words.”
First of all we must consider the limiting factors of social norms that limit the expression of emotions for men as they go against the big demands of a modern lifestyle that values efficiency and celerity even in the menial acts. Stoked by the need for urgent satisfaction and the fear of not being included, we race through our objectives without paying heed to the emotional side.
Notwithstanding our individual differences in vulnerability, social pressures are influencing our acts and personalities, gravely curtailing our capacity to imagine and engage in abstract thinking. The operational thinking is gaining ground, displacing the representation, the imagery, the fantasies, the freedom to let our imagination loose to fly away to uncharted emotional territories. Objectivity in our thinking translates into assertiveness in our daily lives.
We can’t possibly imagine a world without emotions where indifferent and insensitive robots pursue spurious, changing objectives and a false credence.
Emotions are inexorably linked to the human condition but there is a lot of room for improvement. We must regain the intensity of our experiences. We must renew the emotional compromise with ourselves. We must adventure into pleasure and hedonism. And when the time comes, experience sadness.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.