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Alexithymia- maybe?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Suzette, Sep 25, 2021.

  1. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    One of the difficuties I have had in life concerns matching my thoughts and feelings. This is paticularly true for unusual or outstanding events.
    Basically I can not identify my thoughts or feelings and I just turn into a confused mess. An event occurs and my mind turns into something that feels like a mass of tangled, black, threads.

    I know I am having anxious thoughts but I can not say what is bothering me. I can not say "xyz makes me feel anxious". It has even taken many years to identify the confusion I feel as anxiety.

    And weirdly, sometimes the event that prompted the confusion isn't even where the actual anxiety lies.
    I will try to reason everything out but I can not. I feel like a blind person trying to describe plaid.

    Even as I write this I think "that's what therapists are for". But I just took an online Alexithymia test and I scored quite highly as having Alexithymia traits. But I am not sure I believe it, in part because such tests phrase questions wrongly such as "friends often tell me...". I have few friends to tell me anything and those I do have aren't close enough, or rude enough to tell me anything.

    So I am bringing this conundrum to you all because, even if the thread goes off topic or is no help to me, maybe the conversation will be interesting.
     
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  2. rach3rd

    rach3rd Active Member

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    That’s exactly what I experience. I have read about Alexithymia too and thought it describes me. If someone asks me how I feel, I don’t know what to say. I haven’t tried any online tests for it though. I feel like sometimes there is a delayed reaction, where my feelings will all come out later after an event has occurred. Apparently it is pretty common among those with ASD. Though with movies I rewatch, I cry at the same spots every time.
     
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  3. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    Me too. Every time. And I find it interesting, because it's easier for me to feel things when watching a well written and acted drama, then it is for me to know what I'm feeling when something happens in real life.

    I remember as a kid, being a boy child as I was, being told to stop crying when I felt I needed to express myself that way. I never understood why the adults kept telling me as if somehow emotion was unacceptable. Admittedly I was a very sensitive kid, but I didn't really have sensitive parents, or family. Boys don't cry. Can't tell you how many times I was told that growing up.

    I think this affected my emotional development, and caused me to suppress emotion in a way that may have affected or definitely contributed to, recognising and understanding what it is I feel in any given moment.
     
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  4. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Regarding dramas, I think music plays a big role as well as the pacing of movies and t.v.. This is well researched stuff. Both music and pacing are deliberately constructed to manipulate emotions. You react the same way, in the same place, because you have been manipulated to feel strongly at that spot.

    You post also points to another way we are manipulated emotionally, that is through social pressure. I recognize this in myself. I don't feel "safe".

    But then there is the confusion. Why do I feel confused because my husband inherited a plot of land? (The current issue)

    I know when I am angry, sad, elated, etc. These are basic emotions. But there are more subtle emotions and I can't always tell what they are. I am writing and I feel "nothing" but, perhaps there is nothing to feel just now. If you ask me "how are you?", I will say "fine" because it is expected but mostly because I have nothing else to say. "Are you happy today?" The only answer I have is "I am".
     
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  5. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    That's a good point. But I often notice that I react emotionally in different places to other people. If I'm watching a drama with someone, I might look over and see tears falling down their face and I'm not moved by what they are at all. I recognise the manipulation you mention. For me it has to be something specific, something deeper, that touches me, and then it will always touch me that way.

    I can think of an example... in the film starring Robin Williams - "What dreams may come", he is having a conversation with a woman in the afterlife, and there is something about her that starts to become familiar to him, and suddenly he realises it is his daughter who died, who has taken a different form, not wanting him to know it was her. That moment of recognition is hardly dwelled on and accepted quite quickly, but for me it is such a beautiful and overwhelming moment. I have to stop the film and cry.
     
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  6. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I've never heard of this before, but it does sound very much like me, I have often described myself as "steady eddy" with how I live my life...

    I've never worried about it that much either, just kept living my life and that has been relatively okay... I actually think it's a benefit to the photography I do, very much based on observation skills I have
     
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  7. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @SimonSays, I haven't seen that movie but I can well imagine people, in general, missing a subtlety in plotting and failing to react. I have noticed that many people opperate only with base emotions and do not possess the "clarity" of mind to understand subtlety. I say "clarity" because I don't want to assume lack of intelligence.

    Have you ever seen the movie "Nine" with Daniel Day Lewis? To me it was a perfectly understandable film. But no one I know liked it because they didn't understand it.
    I think most people expected big emotions as they might with an action film. I didn't particularly feel moved by Nine but I understood it on a psychological level.
     
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  8. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    You maybe right. Emotions are a basic form of communication. But in your work, you aren't communicating with your subjects or, perhaps, expecting to communicate emotions that you were feeling back to observers of your work?
     
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  9. 1ForAll

    1ForAll Active Member

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    From what I understand alexithymia is not just common in those with Autism, but for those with depressive conditions and those that suffered trauma as a child, too. In my case, although I can understand even the slightest of others' actions and inactions, expressions, postures and non-verbal cues well, as I am very vigilant there and insightful in ways, as understanding human behaviors was always a hyperfocus, thus with some stronger understanding skills there, I admit I have more difficulty expressing typical emotions, like sadness, happiness, anger, and so forth.

    In my case, it's hard to say if the origin is genetic or environmental learned, or a combination. I just know in order to survive, I felt the need to eventually repress, minimize or neutralize my feelings. I mean, my parents fought a lot, and were abusive and neglectful too, and I was bullied earlier on for things, so I think that played some role in wanting me to not get too up, too scared, or too down for things. It's as if my mind and body said I needed to not get too excited or depressed, as the former emotion would rarely happen anyway, and as the later could kill me.

    So, even for holidays I still do not feel or show much joy or feel much happiness. Should I win the lottery though one day, I likely could have a racing heart and some positive thoughts there, but I would not be smiling much, very enthusiastic or anything like that. And, if I were to feel pressured to speak in front of a group of others now, I likely could revert back to some prior ways that showed panic and some signs and symptoms there, and I would understand that showed fear, but in general, it takes an awful lot to make me upset too. Even surgeries I had, poor test results, past traumas I had I seem to minimize the harms.

    However, like if I see someone in need in any way, it is instinct to want to help them, regardless if a stranger, acquaintance or friend. It's not that I am crying or feel real sad about it that the emotions could cloud my judgement, likely because as mentioned it was likely a survival need for me to not feel too much, and as some self-help things over the years made me more positive when bad things occur, but I can understand my thoughts very well, and feelings on a basic and lower level, and so I know how to act and react in life not only to protect me, but to assist others the best..

    So, in my case, as an introvert and introspective person, I do not think hiding some feelings or with less ability to express them is bad, as it is what is is and supposed to be I reason, and by doing that I feel that can create just as many benefits for me and for others I communicate with, than otherwise had I instead felt a lot and/or wore my emotions on my shirt sleeve.
     
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  10. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It's just my hobby/special interest

    But... My main observation over the years is how other photographers often (many times) will associate an emotion to their work, I will see that in how they even describe the photo...

    I rarely have an emotion in the moment, or after... I tend to be very cold emotionally in my entire approach

    Yet... I have often had other people describe emotion when they look at the photos, an emotion I never really had
     
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  11. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I associate emotional coldness with sociopaths. "Coldness" implies a willingness to hurt others because, even if you empathize with the pain caused, you simply don't care.
    I don't see that quality in your posts here. Perhaps you are more like my husband simply rational. Not everything is rationally worthy of emotions that consume energy.
     
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  12. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    Yes, clarity. Being present with the film. Not trying to understand what's about to happen, instead letting the director reveal the story moment by moment. Sometimes I feel quite detached. I haven't suspended disbelief in the way I would need to. I'm not emotionally involved even if I'm enjoying it.

    When I watch a film, I really watch it, but I've noticed people often choose to do other things as well, so that they're not actually looking at the screen all the time. They may be hearing the sounds, so they are still feeling connected, but have they really watched the film with much of the subtlety and nuance missing? It is after all a visual medium.

    Getting back on topic somewhat... the feeling of going for the hug, needing a hug, giving a hug, these have all been issues for me. It's not a question of not wanting to be touched, it's more a question of not needing to be touched as a way to be comforted, and not intuitively touching as a way of comforting. I've had moments in my younger life where people said..."go on, give them a hug"... and I suddenly spring into action and do so, realising that doing so was a perfectly normal response, and yet I never had that feeling, and would not have done so had I not been prompted.

    I understand people are comforted by a hug, and when someone gives me a hug spontaneously, if they've felt something genuine towards me, I appreciate it and in that moment understand why we do. But if no hug comes, I won't be missing it.

    When I was growing up we weren't a 'touchy-feely' family, but I remember having some physical contact, so I don't think I was deprived, it just didn't matter, or I didn't benefit from it in the way it was assumed I would.
     
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  13. Sherlock77

    Sherlock77 Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Definitely rational, but then I know that anyway
     
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  14. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @1ForAll,

    I can relate to your post quite strongly.

    It is easier for me to not feel than it is to explain why I feel as I do.

    As I mentioned above, my husband is quite rational. I am drawn to that quality because he can sift through his thoughts and arrive at a plan. He simply does not bother with explainations.

    Whereas I seem to be forever trying to explain my emotions. Why do I do it? Explaining is, perhaps, my worst quality. I get confused seeking explainations and need to justify everything. I exhaust myself. Yet, sometimes, I can't figure out what I am thinking unless I take the long route by explaining the feelings I have. Somehow that process leads me to rational thought. It is so weird I think I shouldn't even share.
     
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  15. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    This is something I experience also. Things are mostly matter-of-fact...it is like this, it has happened this way, there is no need for emotion, no need to go there, a waste of energy, unless someone likes doing it, which I think some people do.

    I am not afraid to cry, and sometimes it's necessary to weep, and a few times that has happened publicly, if I'm overwhelmed by emotion it has to come out. But more usually crying takes place privately, and it can feel almost indulgent very quickly as if I'm somehow milking it, and I'm on my own! I need to reign it back in as there is no point.

    There can be a great catharsis to a good cry, and I think more men ought to do it, but there's this balance point of over-indulging, and I always become aware of it while I'm experiencing the emotion. That's why most of the time I see things objectively, rationally, and emotion is not even close, but then something seemingly can happen that makes me feel overwhelmed so quickly I have no way to do anything but feel it.
     
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  16. Suzette

    Suzette Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    @SimonSays

    Crying as you describe I think of as releasing pentup energy.
     
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  17. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    For me, crying often brings with it a sense of realisation. Only by releasing emotional energy this way can I understand where the emotion came from and why it's built up the way it has.
     
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  18. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I identify with the delay in recognition of emotions, I think this is a delay in processing that can be part of autism. I know what I am/was feeling a day or two later. At the time, usually I don't.

    On the other hand I do sometimes seem to get a 'download ' of emotion from another person who is experiencing grief for example, then I may spontaneously cry, even if they aren't doing so. Extreme empathy?

    I am also often able to 'rationalise' emotions, and feel better, through logical thinking. Also interrupting rumination does this. I would say I'm a lot less emotional/ inclined to cry or get upset than when younger, and/or than prior to doing therapy and self development over many years.
     
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  19. watersprite

    watersprite inadvertent vagabond V.I.P Member

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    Just now walking back from the farmer’s market I failed to recognize the neighbor next door until figuring out 5 minutes later who it must’ve been who said, “hi!” to me. No wonder people think I’m a jerk. :(
    I said hi back to him but probably had a mystified expression on my face.
     
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  20. watersprite

    watersprite inadvertent vagabond V.I.P Member

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    Some people cry very easily. I don’t. It does happen but maybe once a year or so. I tend to delve deeply into the pain and think through what is happening on as many levels as I can be aware of. Generally this doesn’t involve or require or engender crying.
     
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