Alexithymia (emotional deafness) and its effect on interpersonal relationships

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Alexithymia, or emotional deafness, as it is commonly called, is a concept that describes the difficulties experienced in recognizing, distinguishing and expressing emotions. Although this concept was used for the first time for psychosomatic patients, today it is stated that it is related to many psychological disorders, and it is described as a condition that can be seen even in healthy individuals. Alexithymia, which affects the verbal, nonverbal or behavioral expression of emotions, also negatively affects interpersonal relationships.

Basic emotions such as fear, happiness and anger are universal and can be conveyed through facial expressions. Perceiving facial expressions and creating them in accordance with the emotions experienced are important parts of nonverbal communication. Alexithymia, which is seen in individuals, makes it difficult to create these facial expressions, causes individuals to be misjudged, and negatively affects nonverbal communication. As an example, in the study conducted by Spitzer et al., it was found that healthy individuals evaluate individuals with alexithymia as colder and socially avoidant.

The difficulties experienced by individuals with alexithymia in recognizing and expressing their inner feelings complicate their treatment in the context of psychotherapy. Because of this lack of insight and the concept of alexithymia was first studied in relation to psychosomatic disorders, there was a tendency towards pharmacology in the treatment process and drug therapy was applied. However, many subsequent studies have emphasized that alexithymia is not a somatic disorder that changes over time, but a personality trait.

Studies have found a link between alexithymia and insecure attachment style. The relationship between the aforementioned difficulties seen in individuals with alexithymia and their attachment styles has been revealed by research. Factors such as not being encouraged to express their feelings in childhood, being brought up in an emotionally disordered family environment, and the existence of a chaotic mother-child relationship are among the reasons for the occurrence of alexithymia in relation to these attachment styles.

REFERENCES

Batigün, AD, & Büyükşahin, A. (2008). Alexithymia: Psychological Symptoms and Attachment Styles. Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 11th(3).

Sasioglu, M., Gülol, C., & Tosun, A. (2014). Alexithymia: Treatment Interventions/Alexithymia: Treatment Interventions. Current Approaches in Psychiatry, 6(1), 22.

Spitzer, C., Siebel-Jürges, U., Barnow, S., Grabe, HJ, & Freyberger, HJ (2005). Alexithymia and interpersonal problems. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 74(4), 240-246.

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