MORE ON NARCISSISM: "ALEXITHYMIA!"

THIS is the latest from Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, from a piece entitled: "Relationship Epidemic: Shutting Out Body Wisdom."

I guess now that the nefarious psychiatric profession is declaring that narcissistic personality disorder no longer exists, we have to give the dysfunction a new name. The Hendricks seem to have found a good one: "Alexithymia."

Their post follows below:


Is alexithymia wreaking havoc in your close relationships?

Most of us struggle at one time or another with an inability to feel what's going on inside us at the level of emotion and energy flow. The technical term for this problem is "alexithymia." If you look it up in a medical dictionary, you'll find some very interesting clues to why relationship conflicts recycle without resolution. The word alexithymia comes from the ancient Greek language and literally means "without words for feelings."

If you're alexithymic, you suffer from three main traits:

You have difficulty identifying your own feelings, emotions and body sensations.

You have difficulty describing your feelings to other people.

You have difficulty hearing or understanding the feelings of others.
We've learned a lot about alexithymia over the past several decades, first in the laboratory of our own relationship and later in working with others. We entered our own relationship 30 years ago with full-blown symptoms of alexithymia. Slowly, and with a lot of careful attention, we gradually became skilled at identifying our feelings, expressing them clearly to each other and listening to each other on the emotional level. As we gained those skills, we began teaching them to others. Now, based on sessions with more than 4,000 couples, as well as a million-and-a-half frequent flyer miles teaching seminars around the world, we can tell you that alexithymia is not only a hindrance to relationship intimacy, but a rampant, out-of-control epidemic.

The epidemic of alexithymia has spread because of two factors:

Almost none of us get any useful instructions in how to be aware of our feelings and what to do to express those feelings effectively. Few of us ever learn how to recognize the signs of feelings in others and how to respond to those feelings effectively. In other words, most of us are desperately ill-trained for one of the most important aspects of life.
Almost all of us have been in situations in which the emotions we felt were so strong and unpleasant that we invented some way to tune them out. We gritted our teeth and squeezed them out of our awareness. Then we ate or smoked or drank or shopped until we distracted ourselves from the painful, overwhelming sensation. Whatever the mechanism of distraction, it can easily become locked in as a habit and eventually even a lifestyle. In other words, if you eat to distract yourself from anger, loneliness or any other feeling that you don't know how to feel, you can quickly become mired in a lifestyle based on handling your obesity.
Alexithymia is a very costly epidemic, but its true cost cannot be tallied because of its pervasiveness. In close relationships, alexithymia keeps you from knowing who you really are, and it keeps you from really knowing your partner. That's only one of the costs, though. It's the underlying issue in many problem areas, including those in politics and business. Multiply the problem times the six billion of us who live here, and you have a planet full of people who are not allowing themselves to resonate in harmony with each other - purely because they've forgotten how to resonate with themselves.


You can read the entire piece HERE.

1 comment:

Fontaine Moore said...

I'm not familiar with the DSM V but assume that Narcissistic Personality Disorder has been eliminated. I fail to see why since it is obvious to me from my research (I'm an educational neuropsychologist) and personal experience that it is a very real condition. I recently read an article in which the author mentioned Alexithymian Narcissism. To me that simply extends the definition to including internal motivations in addition to than external behaviors. What is your thinking about the apparent demise of NPD?

 

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