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What is Alexithymia?


Alexithymia is a maladaptive psychological disorder characterized by the inability to identify and verbally describe emotions and feelings in oneself as well as in others. The word literally means "no words for emotion," and comes from the Greek a for "lack" lexis for "word" and thymia for "emotion."

People who suffer from alexithymia are limited in their ability to experience fantasies or dreams or to think in an imaginative way. Rather, they exhibit an externally focused way of thinking, relying on facts and specifics. People with the condition are often described by others, including their loved ones, as cold and aloof. They severely lack empathetic abilities and have great difficulty in effectively understanding and responding to other people’s feelings.

Individuals with alexithymia lack empathetic ability and are often described as cold or aloof.
Individuals with alexithymia lack empathetic ability and are often described as cold or aloof.

This condition can be a variable characteristic that is often measured by researchers and psychologists through multiple choice questionnaires or surveys. Each answer has a predetermined score, and the total score of the questionnaire is analyzed to indicate the presence or lack of alexithymia in a particular individual. Research that relies on these measurements has shown that those who score high are severely limited in their ability to form and maintain intimate relationships. Lower scores show only difficulty in relationships.

Someone who is unable to express his or her feelings may develop stomachaches.
Someone who is unable to express his or her feelings may develop stomachaches.

In the past, alexithymia was classified and limited to psychosomatic disorders, which are disorders that involve physical symptoms of the body that are created or exacerbated by the mind. For example, someone who is very angry but does not express his or her anger may develop a stomachache. This condition as a psychosomatic disorder often manifests in the form of bodily complaints and symptoms of an individual who can not effectively express emotion. Research has revealed that it can be present in individuals who do not suffer from psychosomatic disorders or physical complaints, however.

Post traumatic stress disorder may trigger state alexithymia.
Post traumatic stress disorder may trigger state alexithymia.

There are two types of this disorder: state and trait. State alexithymia has a specific cause and is usually a temporary condition. Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), caused by experiencing a horrific event, is one example that is known to trigger this type. Trait alexithymia is thought to be a characteristic inherent in one's personality. This type can be inborn or caused by events that occur in a person's early childhood, such as abuse or neglect from a primary caregiver.

Discussion Comments


It says alexithmia is temporary. How long is temporary?


Alexithymia is definitely a trait not necessarily a product of childhood neglect. My sister I believe definitely has this and I didn't realize it until we were both adults. I finally got so frustrated, I started typing in traits and came across alexithymia.

Basically, the communication is all one sided. I am very frank and direct with her telling her to tell me stories or communicate about things that happened to her like normal people do and it doesn't occur to her to express emotions or tell any stories and engage in much conversation.

One of the things I read was people with this are unable to relay someone's personality traits or explain what a person is like. I tested this after she went to a college friend's funeral. (Who had sadly taken her life). I asked her what her personality was like (the friend's) and she shrugged and said she had a lot of friends. I had met the friend a few times and she was very warm, bubbly, positive. My sister also started crying and looked down but didn't say anything about the funeral or how she felt or her confusion.

She gets annoyed when I ask clarifying questions and show an interest in people's reactions, etc. She feels no need to share anything like that or truly communicate and share. She had very loving, supportive parents and I know it is a genetic trait as well, because I have a couple of aunts in the family who are basically like doorknobs and never share stories or feelings.


My husband to a T. He has PTSD. We have two babies. Now what do I do about it?


Please, stop analyzing and labeling your spouses!


I'm pretty sure my wife has this, I've been trying to figure it out for years. There's a post earlier about how it's selfish for a spouse of an alexithymic to want to leave, but to expect someone with normal emotional needs to live their life without an emotional connection is unreasonable.


I had to read up on this for school. It reminds me of my boyfriend to an extent.

We've been dating for almost two years now, and he's completely different than when we started dating. He was very affectionate and told me all the time how much he liked me and how pretty I am, etc. He told me he loved me three months in, and things were great for a while, because he seemed as if he meant it and acted like he did. Around five months in, he told me he didn't know if he 'loved me anymore'. I was confused about this because I said maybe we should think about ending it, but he put up a fight each and every time I mentioned it.

He has made it clear he does not ever want to end things, but it has only gotten worse since then. He seems to need more alone time and does not pay as much attention to me as he used to. He does not ever tell me how he feels and in the beginning, we had intercourse a lot but the past year it has been only a few times a month and he rarely initiates it.

The thing is, he does show emotion. He smiles, laughs, etc. He even recently told me (after I kept badgering him about it) that he may love me, but he did not use that word. He avoids it. He said, "I may feel it" but that was months ago and he still has not said it. I bring it up often and he avoids it and still won't say it. He says he feels pressured to, but I'm just not sure why he can't say it when he used to. I told him he probably does not, but he'll get angry if I say that.

He's stressed all the time and complains a lot. He gets angry all the time. He does not really look forward to anything, and when I ask him he'll say something like "Meh, not really excited about it" even if it's something I know he's interested in.

I'm not sure why he acted so differently in the beginning and is so different now. But I don't want to leave him. I just want to know what's wrong with him and if we can work on any aspects of it, like how he treats me sometimes. (Getting angry, ignoring me, etc).

Any opinions on if this is even close or something completely different?


After trawling through articles and wikipedia for years, I finally discovered this word and definition today. I think my mum has it, but you guys posting that you have it, have a far greater ability to express yourselves than she has.

She also has phycosomatic illnesses: "I'm going to get flu/ back pain/ chills, I just know it.", and sure enough, in a few days or hours she is in bed sick.

Some examples of her traits are: She is able to recognize if her child is sick, but does not have empathy to take them to the doctor/emergency department/give worming tablets/treat pain, etc. The worst shock I got was about two years ago. I was really sick and suddenly started gasping for breath and throwing up. I felt like I couldn't get enough air and was going to die. She came in, gave me a tissue then walked out of the room and continued watching TV. I remembered afterward that she did the same thing once when my dad was choking on some food. She just ignored it - business as usual for her.

It is only in these past few months (after 10 years of practice) that I am able to actually recognize that I am sick or in pain. I was so used to ignoring it as the only way of dealing with pain and sickness. Thankfully, it now only takes a few hours to recognize them, and another few hours to remember that, yes indeed, I can treat it, and medication can help and miracle of miracles, I have or can buy the medication!

She says she can't tell when she is hot or cold (it is summer here – 25-30 C and she was walking around in a jumper the last two times I saw her. She also says she can't feel when she's stepped on something. She constantly steps on her dog or cat - like numerous times a day. She insists she was looking where she was going, but clearly not.

She only 'remembers' a few words in a sentence that you say to her. She says she "understands what you say" but "as soon as you stop talking its gone". So a coherent conversation is rarely possible.

At any interaction that is emotional, challenging or something confusing happens she "goes blank", where it seems to me and her other kids that she refuses to think, even though she insists she is trying really hard.

She shows a lack of interest in her environment and doesn't do things fully. For example, her idea of looking for something is to scan the room in a second or two, then declare its "hopeless". The same for reading - she doesn't bother reading titles or from top to bottom. A page is taken in with a quick glance, seeing words randomly. On the internet she doesn't or can't tell the difference between a Sign In/Password section and a Join/Sign Up section.

She is extremely resistant to taking responsibility for her attitudes, actions and the impact of her behavior. Just last week she said she "can't understand why you kids hate me", "apparently I was a bad mother" and that she "can't understand what I did wrong". And years and years of feedback and explaining from her kids and counselors has made zero difference to this attitude.

I'm sure I could rave on forever, but I think you get the picture.

I vary between being sympathetic, disgusted at her attitudes, and flat out refusing to speak to her.

The hardest part is she has lucid moments, and the other kids and I are certain that if she just listens, takes responsibility, learns how to manage her pain/ impulsiveness /emotions, then life will be much easier for her and everyone who has to deal with her.


I want to read and reread all your posts. My wife of 27 years has decided to leave me and told me I have Alexithymia. I fit the syndrome to a tee, thinking that providing for the family was my most important role.

Now I am left with no wife, my kids are estranged, and quite confused. Sounds like I am a textbook case. I don't know where to go now. Please be non-judgmental. I feel a little relieved that I am unwell, not bad.


Half of this is rubbish. I have Alexithymia, and have suffered with depression and anorexia. I really struggle to identify and express my own emotions, but have been told by many that I have very high levels of empathy (sometimes to my own detriment). Yes, these are symptoms that some suffer, but I'm sure many, like me, do not.


I have recently ended a very long term relationship with an alexithymic boyfriend. He had suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries, some of which were before we met.

I, like so many others who have posted on this page, was both shocked and relieved to have learned about this condition. I kept wondering what I had done wrong, and why I wasn't good enough to marry. I felt like I was reading my own experiences over and over again. Especially the one who said "It would be amazing if there was some [way to treat it], because if there was, we could actually be the no. 1 couple in the universe because everything else is so perfect".

It breaks my heart to have had to leave him, and I don't ever want anyone to think it is because of anything he did to me, or because he ever treated me badly. He was just never going to be able to give me what I needed emotionally. We could have spent wonderful weekends together for the rest of our lives, but that was all it was ever going to be. We would never move on to the next level. I wanted nothing more than to share the rest of my life with him.

I will always love him, and this grieving process is the most difficult thing I have ever had to go through. I also would like to know if there is some sort of a support group. This is so painfully real.


I was married to an AS/Alexithymic for 17 years. The marriage worked beautifully if one considers logistics and steadfastness. The marriage suffered mightily and progressively from the alexithymia and ended in divorce.

The post divorce has been absolute hell, because he literally threw a switch and "turned off" our marriage and "turned off" any connection to me and our past. Our children do not want to talk about family life from when he and I were married, so I have to exist as if nearly two decades of my life just disappeared. He has no empathy whatsoever to my divorce grieving process, and in fact, simply posted himself online and snatched up a woman and is engaged to her only 17 months post-divorce.

If you are an emotional/romantic/feeler with any sex drive at all, you owe it to yourself to run away from an alexithymic relationship. I am not 50 years old, and have had sex maybe 100 times in my life, and with him he never once initiated, and did not like to be touched. It will break your heart. Get out now.


To those who say leaving someone who is alexithymis is selfish: Please refrain from judging those of us who know, understand, and need emotions in our relationships. I became physically ill in a marriage to a man who did not know and could not relate to his or my emotions, while he blamed me for not giving him enough affection, respect, and understanding.

One-way relationships are not relationships, and they hurt -- powerfully! No one can live someone else's life for them. Please don't ask. Those of you who are aware of your condition and are trying to deal with friends or lovers, good for you! Just remember that it's not the other person's fault if they have needs that you cannot fill. It hurts them as much as it hurts you.


I have been living for nearly 30 years with a man who does not express much emotions. Anger, yes, but love, sexual desire, admiration, empathy? Forget it!

Talking about it always resulted in him finding fault with me (which I could never correct no matter how much I tried). Or, he would simply walk out, telling me that the problem was all mine, and had nothing to do with him. This situation made me very miserable for years. I came to believe that he needed to feel control over me or to feel some sort of twisted superiority over me by keeping me wanting for intimacy and friendship. I felt rejected in every way.

He did not want a divorce and we had children to bring up. So, to keep my sanity I had to stop expecting any improvements in our relationship. I lived through those years by filling up my life with career, outdoor activities, concerns for our children and general busyness.

Now, I am contemplating retirement and old age and I am thinking about leaving him.

My advice to young women out there is to get out of relationships such as the one I had as soon as you can. It does not get better and if you stay, your life will be a long heartbreak.


Thank you Amy for noticing my post. I have spoken with my pastor (we call them something else) and he's just not trained enough to help me further.

I've noticed that when I talk with him lately, he's started to say things like, "well, now you are an adult and you can choose how to respond to someone else or your situation." The problem with this, is that I'm not connected to me. I have no clue what he's talking about. His attitude has become passive and I'm not sure he wants to hear from me again.

I did not think I would feel this bad when the abusers and haters were all gone. I never expected to be so overwhelmed with nightly terrors, nightmares and tremendous rage. I really thought I would be at peace. It's been the complete opposite and I wasn't prepared for this kind of future.

I cry a lot, especially when the pain becomes too intense. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, dissociative disorder, multiple personality disorder and schizoid/affective disorder-BP. I have lost pockets of time where I have become another personality and "wake up" several hours later, somewhere else and totally confused as to what happened. I don't feel safe or secure anymore.

Sometimes I just wish I had a home to go to or a soft place to fall. That's why I wanted to thank you for answering my post. Your being kind was very nice. It's what the world needs more of.


@anon265745: I don't know how much actual help I can be, but I did want you to know someone saw your post and does care. I will be praying for you.

Since you attend church, let me suggest you contact your pastor for assistance. Some pastors have degrees in counseling and can help directly, but almost all can recommend a place where you can get the help you need without it costing your entire income. At least you would have someone to talk to. And it's tough to shock a clergyperson. Over the years, they hear everything.

Good luck. I'm pulling for you.


I'm a 60 year old, single, never been married woman and my life is completely hellish. After reading these posts I know I have alexithymia. I also have aspergers and come from a very brutal, abusive background.

My immediate family have all died and now I also experience separation anxiety. I am full of rage, but it's the only emotion I experience. I am alone 95 percent of the time, have no close friends or family, have many people who will no longer speak to me and I hate my life. I wish I was never born and want to desperately die daily. I can't imagine being like this another year, let alone another 20 years. I have no money or insurance.

Where do I go for help and is there any out there? I spend all holidays alone. My birthday is coming up and I know I'll spend it alone too, just like all the others. I get easily agitated and over stimulated. The worst thing someone can say to me is, "Well, you're an adult now." I've had terrible bad luck over the last 15 years, including deaths, loss of income, loss of pets, loss of apartments, etc. It never ends. I'm not even sure if anyone will notice this post.

I also have been hearing voices, all the time, since I was a young child. I've never had a silent mind. I've completely slipped through the cracks. I'm not alive; I'm just existing. The thing is, I do not smoke, drink, do drugs, am not or have been sexually active, go to church every Sunday, am honest, try to keep the commandments, yet still feel like I'm in hell. Sometimes I think that's where I'll end up.

If someone is out there, please help, because I'm drowning.


I have been reading some of your comments with interest and most of you have described my husband to a "T."

One thing that upsets me more than anything is the fact that he doesn't seem to have any memories of our past 30 years together. I will try jog him about places, holidays, etc., but he always says the same thing which is "I can remember vaguely but it was such a long time ago." Why have I even bothered?


I love my boyfriend. No matter what, I will always love him the same. Through thick and thin, I will stay by his side. But living with a man with Alexithymia is definitely a challenge. We have been together for four years now. When we first started dating, it was the usual. We had a lot of sex, went out all over town and just had fun. Looking back, I can see how he has always been the same. The newness of our relationship died out very fast. I would say after only a short six months. But I knew in my heart, he was the man I would be with for the rest of my life.

It took him a year to hold my hand as we walked down the street. It took him a year and a half to tell me he loved me. I knew he did the whole time but I never forced him to tell me. We have sex maybe three times a month and I am always the one to initiate. We kiss and hug, but only because I am the one to grab him and hold him. I can tell he likes it but I can also tell he really doesn't feel it very deeply. I know he wants to, I can just tell.

For the four years we have been together, he has never once complemented me. It hurts sometimes and I do tell him that it would be nice to know that he does find me attractive, especially since he doesn't show it physically. I bring it up at least once a month. But when I shed tears in these deep conversations, he nervously walks away. I always try and talk about our future and all he can say is: "yeah I would like to buy a house" like he doesn't know how to say "I can see us in our own house together". I talk about marriage and children all the time but he never comments. When people ask us if we are married or getting married he will tell them we are very close to it but never talks to me about it.

For a while, I thought he was cheating on me. Heck, for a while I thought he was gay. Now that I know it is something he is struggling with, I am not as hurt and I am supportive. I still smother him with affection and complement him at least five times a day. But I also still go into another room and cry a little when I imagine his arms wrapping around me while he smiles at me and says so comfortably "I love you, beautiful" because I do know that I will never have that. But I love him so much!

Aside from his lack of expression and affection, he is absolutely perfect. He would take me anywhere in the world if I asked him, just to make me happy. We can talk for hours, and he pays so much attention to everything I say. He is such a gentleman and is very respectful. It will take a long time to get use to a relationship like this and we might not ever marry. I am planning on trying to become pregnant some time this year. Unfortunately, it is just my decision. I do fear this problem will affect his relationship with our child, but all I could do is try and make up for that with showing extra love and affection. I know he will adore our child, but only once that baby is here in this world.

I see the signs of Alexithymia in his personality as well. The tone in his voice never fluctuates. It is always one flat note. He doesn't have many friends and the ones he does have live in other states and all were first his older brother’s friends. He has only ever been in one other relationship and that was while he was in high school.

He has rhythmic movement disorder which we characterize by his sucking noises and rocking his feet back and forth at night while falling asleep. It is a self soothing method which is found in babies and is suppose to disappear by toddler age or younger. He never shows anger or ever shows excitement. He has never shouted in glee or smiled widely. When he does smile, it is in response to someone else's smile (like a handshake) like our neighbor saying hello. My friends make fun of him and call him a nerd because he would rather have a conversation about true facts, history or something with strict structure than watch a football game.

Our relationship works out because we make our different personalities work. It hurts, but not enough to tear me away from him. I think that if you don't feel such strong love for your partner with Alexithymia, then you need to get out of the relationship as soon as possible if you think you may not be able to handle it. I cannot see possible ways, therapy or drugs that would ever change the way my boyfriend is. It would be amazing if there was something because if there was, we could actually be the no. 1 couple in the universe because everything else is so perfect. I fell in love with him this way so I am going to continue to love him this way.


I am reading all of these posts and don't really understand the difference between asperger's and what is being discussed here. This is the first time I have ever heard of this.

I have been in a relationship with a man for almost seven years. Six months ago we moved, bought a house and having been living together for the first time since we have known each other.

He walked out a week ago and said he can't do this. He made a mistake thought he could but he can't. He left me devastated. He has been very difficult especially with all of the changes. He has gotten more and more distant. He has no emotion at all except for frustration and anger. When I try to talk to him, he is impatient all the time and than will become defensive.

I am so sad. I want to help him, but he says he is better by himself. Will any counseling help?


@anon220745: I also have an asperger's diagnosis, however I am completely the opposite of this. I experience extreme mood reactivity. I am, always feeling either "amazing" or "despondent" or "agitated" (or any combination of the above...). I find it hard to remember a time when I felt just "OK", let alone "nothing".

However, on the outside, I usually appear quite cold and aloof (or, my face shows an entirely different emotion to what I'm feeling inside). I also hate talking about feelings with partners (possibly because my emotions are often inappropriate for the situation), but I love expressing/analyzing them with anyone else who I think might actually want to listen.


@Post44: "When we have had an argument, usually over his lack of emotion..." that sounds an awful lot like me. In my case, it means I'm totally overwhelmed and can't bear it, not that I don't care. If it helps, it seems likely that your boyfriend is the same, even if he doesn't consciously recognize it. Though of course I could be completely wrong. --Chell


I have an Asperger's diagnosis. Most of the time I feel very neutral, and if asked what emotion I am feeling, my answer would be 'none'. I do, however, experience emotions, and if asked at the exact moment I am experiencing one, I think I could identify and verbalize it correctly.

I recall during my evaluation for Asperger's, I was asked to report the emotion I was feeling at that point in time, and describe it. I told them I wasn't feeling anything and so there wasn't anything to describe. The I was asked to describe what feeling sad was like, or what feeling happy was like. I didn't have an answer for either, except that I have felt sad and I have felt happy, but how does one describe a feeling?

I'd really like to hear a neurotypical person describe a feeling. I have a suspicion that I'd hear something like 'warm' and 'fuzzy' as a description for 'love'. Well, that's no good - those are both feelings too. What if the problem isn't with those who are labeled Alexithymic, but rather with those who've come up with the label?


I have been with my boyfriend for nearly two years, and after a few months I researched 'inability to express emotion' and discovered alexithymia! Everything about it describes my boyfriend perfectly. He has never, ever said. "I love you," but protests that he doesn't know what love means and that it is "just words." He never really kisses and sex, though satisfying physically, is purely functional and almost always initiated by me. He has little interest in birthdays or Christmas, even suggesting that we don't buy each other anything, which totally goes against the way I feel. When we have had an argument, usually over his lack of emotion, he is completely blank and will walk away to another room even if I'm sobbing my heart out.

On the plus side, he's very honest, reliable and good company. I trust him implicitly and we spend all weekend, every weekend together. He has a lovely family who seem openly caring, but he admits that he has rarely hugged his Mom and Dad. His life is all about routine and not upsetting the status quo, so my occasional emotional outbursts leave him looking like a kicked puppy; he truly does look completely confused as to how to react or what to say.

He has only had one long-term relationship before, even though he is in his early 40s, and he says that he never told her that he loved her either. She eventually left him after six years because she wanted children and he never has, and when I asked how he felt then he just shrugs and says yes, he missed her -- she was "someone to do stuff with_ -- making her sound as if she could be anybody! His friends, however, say that although he didn't talk about feelings or anything after she left, he was very down for a long time and drank more.

She had been his first girlfriend and he then embarked on a wild social life on weekends and had a series of one-night stands for a few years. He made friends with a girl who was considerably younger than him and she became what he called his "best friend" for nearly three years. He spent his weekends with her socialising, and she stayed at his house all the time, and they slept together often yet he never referred to her as his girlfriend, just his best mate.

Inevitably, after a while, she told him she had fallen in love with him and he said he backed off a bit then because he didn't want to hurt her. That was a few months before I met him and she has since met someone, fallen in love and moved in with him.

He was very open about all this when I met him and my first concern was what makes me his "girlfriend" when she was just his "friend." He said he knew he had no future with her as she would want kids one day like his ex had. I have two teenage children already from my previous marriage and don't want any more children.

We have a lot in common and I really enjoy being with him, but as a naturally emotional and romantic woman who has never had any problems expressing how I feel, it has been a difficult adjustment for me at times and I have wondered if I really can be with someone like this long-term.

I keep waiting and hoping that something will happen that will make him realize that he does love me but I don't think that will happen. My sister tells me it's not about what he says but what he does that is important. He has never let me down, makes me laugh and is great company.

I have no idea what the future holds for us, but at the moment I can't imagine not being with him and like others have said, it would seem like such a petty reason (in a way) to walk away from him. He is a good, genuine and kind man who just cannot express what I am sure is there within him somewhere.

My heart goes out to all who have alexithymia and those who live with them. I think it has helped me a lot to actually put a name to it and read all these posts which are heartbreakingly familiar. He cannot change, so it is just a case of whether I can live with it.


I'm a male and I just recently turned 21. For years, my older brother and sister have been telling me that I'm emotionally numb or cold hearted. I have been this way ever since I can remember. Honestly, I think I might have Alexithymia, and no, I'm not a hypochondriac.

This is the first time in my life that I have heard about something and actually thought I might have it. I have been reading up on Alexithymia for the last three hours now and things are starting to make sense to me. I never really knew why I had such a hard time relating to others and etc. Even now, it's kind of hard for me to write this comment. I don’t cry when people close to me pass away. I didn't and still don't know what to do to comfort a crying person that I'm in or was in a relationship with. I kind of just sit there and wonder why she is crying and what I can do to make her stop and I come up with nothing.

The last relationship I was in was ended because of the fact that I'm not affectionate and never showed her that I cared about her. I could probably continue typing for another two hours but I don’t know. Does it seem like I have Alexithymia to anyone? And if so, who should I talk to? As in what kind of doctor?


It's really quite disturbing to see so many people reading about this condition and still threatening to leave their spouse or significant other over something the person is incapable of without having the support they need. If you're here reading this, it's safe to think you're reading about alexithymia in other places so you can learn about it and understand your mate.

Yet still, you're acting in the same fashion as the person you accuse of being cold and emotionless; threatening to leave them for an unintentional act they're not even aware of committing. it's not a choice to not understand your own emotions or the emotions of those around you, it's really quite difficult and lonely. As well, it's understandably lonely for the mate of a person with this condition, but consider the alexithymic person, who would stand by your side under 'any' circumstance. They would be loyal to you if you committed any act. Also, if you had an accident resulting in a coma or vegetative state; you would clearly leave your mate, while your alexithymic mate would sit with you, read to you, tell you about their day, tell you of memories you shared, etc.

Any mate of an alexithymic person who would leave them because of this unwanted condition is entirely selfish. Consider your suffering mate for a second, in between you loathing your pitiful existence since your mate won't, and can't by nature, express their feelings towards you or about situations and their experiences. You expect them to be sensitive to your emotions, now be sensitive to your mate who has none. It should not be a double-standard.

Both my wife and I are suffering from alexithymia, as I have this unwanted condition. She is highly emotional, and I can't 'feel' anything or be sympathetic for her when she's down. I also can't share in the experiences of our two children, who are fantastically open and adventurous. We provide a warm and caring environment for them, but it's blank to me despite spending nearly all of my free time with us as a family. I’m terribly saddened by this, as I can't truly share their experiences as children.

I still haven't found a solution, but I do have hope. I’m starting a neurofeedback program to stimulate my prefrontal cortex. Ideally, this will create new paths and allow me to generate more synapses which should generate more white matter and allow my brain to build new paths and help me begin to 'feel'. At 39, I’ll be an emotional infant, but what a fantastic world I have to look forward to: learning about feelings with a mature consciousness. I want my spouse to be here with me, and for me, during this phase of my life.

Any of the potential victims sourly spoken of in earlier posts want the same thing; they just don't know how to express it or how to address their condition. Help your alexithymic mate, as he or she would help you.


@anon136211: This is exactly like my son was. My son passed away just a month ago. We found out he had Asperger's, so I started reading about AS for a while now. I learned a lot in the last four weeks and I just found out that 85 percent of Asperger's have Alexithymia. I wish I'd known about this earlier. Unfortunately, we cannot help him but at least we can understand why he was like that.

I'm glad I found this site, I see things much differently now.

It's painful to lose a son at the age of 21 but now i know he was very ill. Rest in peace. --Angels


My husband has all of the traits of alexithymia. The emotional blankness has been so very hard to live with all these. I've felt very alone. I'm very thankful to have found this site and to hear others' experiences. I would only like to add that my husband recently found out he has a genetic disorder called Fragile X. He has the permutation. The symptoms are those of alexithymia among other things and it gets progressively worse in men starting in their 50's or 60's. Anger, even rage, is the main emotion that is felt, or I would more accurately say, takes over him.

For some who have contributed to this site, it might be something to check for. It is not very well known because genetic testing has only become available in the last 15 years, but it is statistically carried by every l in 300 women and 1 in 800 men. My heart goes out to all who have written and I wish each of you the best. --Rose


I am going to be a little conservative during this comment. I wanted to address a few more of the other comments.

Disclaimer: All my opinions are conjectures and should not be used as or substituted for professional counseling or as registered psychologist. Although my words may seem like good advice, please synthesize it with your own therapist's knowledge of your situation.

@tituslazar1, Post 7: it's a a personality trait currently, as of DSM-V (2012) it will become Affective Deprivation Disorder based off Affection Exchange Theory.

@johanna, Post 4: From what you posted, it seems like the memory issues could be a PTSD reaction from either the accident or the abuse in the relationship. It's not all that clear. But it would be wise to not put all your chips into alexithymia being the root cause. Keep a clear head, assess the situation and decide your course of action after you have sufficient knowledge of the whole ordeal (sufficient knowledge, being professional workups completed).

@pat, Post 1: Simply, they need to write out the differences between themselves, the advantages and disadvantages in staying within the relationship and leaving. To analyze the future risk and investment of emotion, brainstorm and survey how you both sides (both partners) emotions would eventually break down (a detrimental degradation analysis).

From what I can gather it looks like the relationship picture reflects the often popular notion that you attract your psychological complement. The male is alexithymia, no emotion or at least hard to express, and the wife is highly emotional/histrionic (this type sounds a little on the borderline personality type to me). Maybe the male enjoyed the drama in his wife, while the dramatic female liked the even-keeled, no emotions in her husband (subconsciously). Overtime though they realized it wasn't going to work but with passing of time, getting back together also maybe seems to work for a while.

I can't tell you what to do because relationships and emotions are highly individual and I always advocate communicating and working things through to the fullest extent. But that comes with an emotional price and if the analysis I wrote about above shows you that your emotional state (and your future state) would outweigh lingering in the relationship, then the two need to communicate the relationship is not going to work.

I think "anon63258" gave some good advice as well.

@post 26 anon88668: From reading in between the lines, I identified a change of heart after you were equipped with additional knowledge of alexithymia, as you said you felt "deep compassion" for your husband. Feeling like you weren't "good enough" sounds like an erroneous thinking pattern, because you said nobody is perfect.

Recognize that you are good enough apart from your husband's issues and you are a wonderful, "expressive and loving person" as you say. Your level of commitment and loyalty has nothing to do with how your husband responds but how he responds has everything to do with how your emotional cup is filled and the development of the emotional void. And that's why you are in a "business tone" when discussing this, protecting your kids and yourself from further emotional damage.

When it comes to friends of yours, maybe he didn't purposely drive them away (even though he was candid in his confession). You should be happy that he was direct and honest with you. You could try to find other ways that he could cope and connect with your friends, in the context of being alexithymic. Advocating to your friends might be the simplest form.

I cannot advise you on your personal emotions and situation to the greatest extent a local therapist could, and in general, I've realized invested emotions in relationships is highly personable and individual. I can advise you that it would be wise to re-frame your concept of "curable" as most disorders are ever not curable, unless purely medical in origin (even then, curable is highly sensitive to the individual's biomolecular and bodily system makeup).

I think most disorders are treatable in that you can use CBT, psychotherapy, life skills and rote learning or memorization as substitutes for coping mechanisms that may alleviate some of the dynamics of alexithymia and if not that, at least equips the two partners with the knowledge of what life will be like with the partner with alexithymia.

As for confirmations on moving on amicably, that is your call in the end, but you have to think through what you have received from this relationship over the 10 or 20 years you have been married. If there's away to receive your emotional connection through other avenues, what does your investment look like towards your kids. The attachment between kids and a mother, is like it is in the animal kingdom and your instinct is to protect.

So I have complete confidence that the instinct you have will guide you to the correct decision. --an Aspie in the Mountains Wade (WDB)


I am a 19 year old college student and I was just evaluated for Alexithymia. It is a 100 percent certainty that I have it and I can tell you right now, this affliction is devastating.

I have a fiance who has the same problem; he knows he loves me but he cannot express it. Same for me. I know I love him but I cannot feel it. I had a really bad childhood where I was nearly starved to death, sexually assaulted, and subjected to the sight of a stabbing that resulted in death.

I have heard that people afflicted with alexithymia can have some type of right brain trauma -- the side of your brain that effects emotions. I was kicked in the head by a horse. My friends no longer want to hang out with me because they say I am so "cold and emotionless; cruel".

I can feel my body reacting to the emotions, but there is a block that prohibits me from showing that emotion on my face. Like anger. Or sadness. Or happiness. I can laugh, and not know why I am laughing. Or cry, and wonder why I am crying. I feel like I am walking through a gray "dead zone" that continues for eternity. There is a numbness.

I care for people. I just can't express it. And it is turning my friends and family away.


I've been married for almost five years and I think my husband has it. He is so logical, smart,and hard working, it's unreal.

On the other hand he is unable to express feelings. I have no self esteem now because he has no interest in me at all. I am at the bottom of his agenda every day.

We make dinner dates and he cancels them. We don't go anywhere. He has a son we're raising. I am so afraid the child will end up like him.

Can marriage counseling help? I love both of them, but all I want to do is die. --lonely at the bottom.


I am 41 yours old man from Iraq, I also I have come across Alexithymia while reading about "Emotional Intelligence”. some years ago, but to be honest, I know how to describe my feelings, and have lots of words to identify it.

I have no feelings, never cry, never am upset or happy. I know the reason behind all that but I have no hand to change it. I have gone through terrible life circumstances that switch me off and I lost sexual desire. Lack of sexual desire is an identified sexual problem that leads to make me lose my interest in all things.

Although I fight bravely. I succeed in work, study and social relationships. I am creative and faithful, but still feel emptiness in my heart due to the absence of sexual pleasure and mood stillness.

Faith and loyalty kept me away from other women other than my wife and I couldn’t feel passion with her. I don’t hate her. We are fine, fine, fine, but I feel as I am kissing my own hand !

Understand? Yeah, I can go without it. It doesn't hurt. Be patient, etc. Thus, 18 years of my life have passed and the only thing I've seen about it is a tiny news story on TV in which they said that scientists have found the area in brain where the sexual feelings are located, and they could possibly stimulate them electrically.

when will such treatment be available to the public?


I have only in the past three years come across Alexithymia while reading about "Emotional Intelligence".

I have been divorced from my husband now for ten years and was totally confused up to that point and had always blamed myself for ending our marriage. Is Alexithymia only a new "disease"? We have three beautiful children - all adults now, and I have come to regard my ex as the "sperm-donating garden gnome". I know this sounds incredibly cruel, but I look back on our marriage and feel this person was not even a friend.

I had blamed myself all along and, like a previous post had stated, I never felt good enough for him. I no longer feel that way and have lived alone now for 10 years and much as I would love to have another man in my life, I am scared of a commitment again because I had tried so hard to get closer to my husband but a wall was always between us.

His personal relationship with his three children is as cold and passionless as my relations with him were. I am so thankful for the beautiful children that we share together and miraculously, they all know how to express their love and emotions.


Help please. I am a 44 year old husband with three girls. I am 98 percent certain my wife has alexithymia. My question to those who have it is: Does knowing you have the condition make it better or worse.

Our marriage is on the rocks but our friendship is surviving and I don't know if telling her (or having her find out) her ailment will help or hurt more.

Thank you and warm loving hugs to those who have been hurt by this horrible affliction.


This sounds exactly like me. I feel like I don't really understand what emotions are. I mean, I can recognize things in others, like a smile means that they are happy, but I don't know exactly which emotion I feel is the one that means you're supposed to smile, so I just smile when I think I should be happy.

A lot of the time, i just cry for no reason. I don't feel bad, or scared, but there are tears running down my face and i just feel grey inside. Can anyone else tell me if this sounds like alexithymia to them, or is this something different?


This is my brother. Definitely.

This is where the personal story of our family begins.

We thought for such a long time, that maybe my brother was just really quiet and aloof and generally uninterested in the life around him. He's silent, perhaps too silent - his face never seems to lighten up, even a bit. When he smile, it's a fake one, just to make us shut up.

Through those times, we considered it as a normal behavior of his - a genuine one, so we didn't really do anything about it, though it bothered us, mostly when he's at home, because he just never speaks of anything when not asked.

And like many of the commentators here, my brother is also a skilled and knowledgeable person - very to be precise. He's a bit lethargic when concerning socializing or even being with his family.

I am relieved to hear this, but am still anxious if there is a best way to treat this? Or should we just really consider that our love ones will remain like this forever? Sincerely yours.


Wow. I've spent the last four years trying to help my husband "feel" anything other than anger. We have encountered a great deal of stress in recent years, and I think his behavior has gotten worse. He is more empty then ever.

He shows no emotional reaction in normal situations. I started to realize over the years that he never talked about feeling anything.

He is cold, indifferent, emotionless and yes, in our younger years we drank a lot more alcohol which, I think, allowed him to show some emotions. He seems to be unable to talk about hopes, dreams, love, feeling happiness etc. I have wondered if he was simply emotionally abusive with his lack of caring, lack of empathy, cold indifference to everyone, and his inability to express anything he feels.

He also tends to get frustrated easily and will throw or break things. He even grabbed me and shook me one time in anger after our children were chanting "hug, hug, hug" because one of our kids was going out of town and my husband refused to hug him goodbye.

When someone is hurt, sad or upset he seems to have no idea of how to comfort them -- either ignoring it or getting mad. He will scream in frustration to me, "how am I supposed to feel? Tell me what I am supposed to feel so I get it right." He shows me and the children no love, caring, affection. He rarely laughs and doesn't seem to enjoy anything.

He always acts indifferent. He acts like holidays, birthdays and other special days are not important. He just doesn't react. He doesn't and hasn't had close friends. I used to notice long ago that I didn't think he was capable of opening up to another person. All his relationships are superficial.

We haven't seen his parents in almost 10 years and he simply doesn't care. He doesn't see why that's a problem. He claims he's always been independent. When I hug him, he has always stiffened up, he acts awkward and uncomfortable. He doesn't hug our children anymore at all (four of them 14-20).

He is currently working on a computer program that teaches compassion, and he keeps abandoning it. Although he seems slightly less angry now. This lack of empathy, compassion and physical and emotional signs of affection are killing me. It's killing "us".

Could this disorder actually be my husband? He is an intelligent man -- almost freakishly talented with numbers and strangely good with math. He is a workaholic, very dedicated. When he dives into projects, he works excessively hard until it's done. Will even at times, push other people to work as hard but never considers their feelings or if they are tired or hungry.

Or maybe they can't lift something because of their size, age or physical ability. He will not hear or notice what they are saying. He cannot feel for them in their situation and will push them to the point of cruelty. could this be because he "feels" nothing? He cannot read someone else's emotions and all he sees is the task to be done?

My husband is the same as above-he watches a lot of sports, has no favorite team, but he knows statistics obsessively. In fact he has no favorite anything. I always say he sits on the fence about everything. He cannot seem to express "liking something the best," which would be being capable of enjoying something and then declaring it with joy and enthusiasm, that it's your favorite!

I realize that my children are growing up and things have to change or our marriage cannot continue. I always knew something wasn't right. Now I am missing intimacy, expressed love and shared hopes and dreams. I do love him and I feel deeply for his pain. I am simply trying to understand if this could be my husband and maybe his apparent emotional abuse stems from an actual "inability" to feel and express his feelings. I feel completely confused and quite stunned.


There is an overlap of Aspergers and Alexithymia, which in this case could signal an underlying neurological cause, and not a psychological, psychosomatic, or functional somatic syndrome cause.

I find too, that it's hard to access emotions, hard to identify them or find certain emotions weird in other people but when it comes to certain subjects, like marriage, it touches a sensitive side of me.

My heart is sad when I hear marriages aren't going right. I believe there is a time to leave a marriage, such as when a husband is not wanting to change from using alcohol or money abusively, or definitely when there is infidelity.

But if the husband is wanting to connect emotionally but can't, I think this is definitely a situation that can be recovered. Consider some solutions.

If one thing hasn't been working, try another. Substitution and alternatives are the best remedies for recurring issues. We use this in the tech field all the time, even when you change a bulb in a lamp. Put in a new one and if it doesn't work, then try replacing the lamp and if that doesn't work, then it's something to do with your wall receptacle. Then after that, you call in an electrician, such as myself.

Many husbands connect in different ways. Couples connect with different avenues to feel as one. Different people have different learning styles or can access enthusiasm or emotions in particular situations or with particular topics.

If you combine these factors then you would have to follow this action plan:

1. Marriage has different avenues for passion, romance, and connectedness, such as indicated in Dr. Jon Van Epps book "How to Not Marry a Jerk". I personally think people who have a neurological disorder or willing to got to therapy to save or increase the value of a marriage, are not jerks.

Find some other way, through interests, his unwavering help around the house, developing a hidden talent or weak one, to find a different connectedness. Even discussing spirituality or visiting family (preferably not the in-laws..ha, ha).

A more familiar example would be when your wife is pregnant and the male has to find another way to find physical pleasure, the wife emotional connectedness. So you pick up on other activities, experiences, etc. to find your connectedness. I admit it can be hard. But then who said marriage is easy. All through your marriage, hard work will be key.

2. Males, or husbands connect in a high-adrenaline way, through sex, cars, mechanics, fixing things etc. There are the sensitive, emotional males but then there the ones who are not having the trouble.

I have heard as a marriage tip when the male is depressed because he lost a job, used to exercise, and is now a couch potato in front of the TV, experts have mentioned that wives should take the initiative to start exercising as a habit. Then the male will follow.

This is true about the mutual motivation in a partnership or marriage. And I think it can help when finding ways in connecting with a husband. How cool would it be to your friends or you, if your wife attended a Monster Truck Rally? I think the husbands would be doing laundry or looking after the kids willingly for many days after.

Remember to seek mutual connectedness. Women's emotions don't have to be neglected, but women need to try other avenues instead of always connecting through romance or passion. Remember everything is a balance in life (food in moderation, for example), more so in dating and paramount in marriage.

3. For this not to go on and on, I will combine two strategies together. Find your partner's learning style or topics he is enthused about. Use these learning styles or topics to spark motivation and clarity. If he can't tell you his emotions, ask him to write down what his emotions are when fixing the car; going out to the bar/pub/club with friends; or enjoying the hardware store.

Always communicate, have patience and implement pacing in your marriage. Some of you have said that's it and have come to the end or your rope. But what happened if climbers on a mountain said that or rescuers gave up after reaching the end of the rope.

Perseverance, persistence, patience and communication are the four characteristics that will get any marriage through the storms, not the only ones, but the times when it's on threads.

For anybody with Alexithymia, try studying faces with identified emotions and then take pictures of yourself and practice. Write down your emotions in situations as an emotional log. There are many online mood trackers, as well. Share this log with your professionals, partner, or friends as sounding boards.

Good luck on your journey!

Disclaimer: Although my advice isn't a replacement for professional counseling, I have had many say they would come to me over a relationship counselor. My own psychiatrist has mentioned in a round about way I know just as much as him and my geneticist said the same thing.

--an Aspie in the Mountains. Wade (WDB)


I entered therapy last year for the first time because my husband of 20+ years was diagnosed with a terminal illness. My therapist diagnosed me as having alexithymia.

I have always been able to get angry, but sadness or fear, happiness and joy, those are feelings that are very hard for me to connect with. I love my husband dearly though, and am very connected to him, so the possibility of losing him has brought on a wave of fear and sadness unlike I have ever experienced in my life.

Needless to say, those of us with this disorder did not exactly have close, intimate bonds with our parents as children; emotions simply weren't safe. But as an adult anger helps to keep one defended. I have spent a lot of time learning to control my anger, taking responsibility for it, and understanding that it hides underlying fear. But that was intellectual understanding.

Now I am dealing with emotional understanding of my fear and sadness and the last year has been gratifying in a way, as I learn to feel unlike ever before, but also incredibly painful (how do all you normal people handle feeling this stuff all the time?)

My husband has been very supportive through all this. He's always been the more affectionate one, the more nurturing parent to our kids, and I feel both incredibly grateful to him for his unwavering support, and sad that it is only now that I can match his passion, his depth of feeling.

Alexithymia is curable. Therapy and the willingness to be honest in relationships (this is so hard for me)is the answer to a richer life.


Numbers 24, 25, 26 sound like Asperger's Syndrome.

#24 sounds like the writer has Asperger's.


I never heard of this condition until today, but must have been meant to find this site. The behaviors described are exactly why I'm actively planning to leaving my husband, to protect my own well being, and even more so, the well being of our young children.

I am a very expressive and loving person, and for years I have been trying to get my husband to "partner" with me -- to no avail. He simply doesn't get it, no matter how I present it to him. He's great at "doing stuff" around the house, with an air of resigned obligation. He is very reliable.

However, there is an emotional void that until now I took to be rejection or judgment. Joy is not something I've ever seen him express -- even during major life milestones.

Now, after reading that some signs include lack of dreaming, imagination, creativity, empathy, etc., I feel deep compassion for him. But I still need to protect myself and my kids. And, any vestiges of romantic love have long withered on the vine. I'm not perfect by any means, but I've been suffering from low self esteem for years because I thought I wasn't "good enough" for him.

I learned the other day that he had no friends growing up, and he admitted to chasing mine away.

I simply cannot live the rest of my life this way, and he is crushing the spirits of my children.

Now that I'm more aware of one of the root causes of our troubles, I need to know if I should reconsider my action plan. Is this condition treatable? Curable? Or, does this new knowledge simply confirm my instincts and allow us to move on amicably?

God bless you for having this information out there. It really can open the doors to positive change. - Sad But Relieved


Strangely, reading these posts makes me feel much better. I just broke up with my boyfriend and have been struggling with what is wrong with me. My self esteem is in the toilet. Tonight I looked up "inability to express emotion" and am glad I did. I realize it wasn't me -- it was him.

He is a brilliant man, very logical, extremely witty and amusing. Always went above and beyond the call of duty in helping me with household things, etc. And never complained. I was completely in love with his mind, as he was great fun to hang out with on a companion level, but felt from the beginning that something was missing.

He never complimented me, except with comments like "you are cool" or "you are awesome". He never reassured me when I questioned his affections. He always made me feel worse with his blank stare.

He called me "complicated" when I tried to talk about feelings. He could never watch an emotional scene in a movie without covering his head in embarrassment. He wasn't interested in sex. His kisses were quick and passionless. But he would always say "Come here. Give me a kiss.", like he was going through the motions of being a proper boyfriend. But I was always left with wanting more.

He had few friends and was a workaholic. His obsessions were always related to work or acquiring possessions. He had hung one picture up at work, and that was a picture of his beloved truck.

He came to the US from Europe and had not been home to see his family in six years, despite having the money to do so. The biggest wake-up call was when he said he didn't care if people died, "why should he? It's a part of life." He assured me he would look at my picture if I died.

I told him I felt like his "pet rock". He was always willing to be with me, very loyal, but showed little affection. He was amused by this, and continued to call me his pet rock. I was not amused.

Once when I asked him why he didn't kiss me like a boyfriend should kiss a girlfriend, he answered "I do." I said "When?" And his reply was "Last week", as if he had to schedule these things.

Actually, he was a really good hugger. Always asking me for a hug. But I tend to think this was an easy way for him to keep me pacified without getting too hot and heavy.

He was also super obsessed with me cheating on him. Turns out one of his exes cheated on him. I have never considered cheating in my life, but with him I actually thought that if I stayed with him, I would have to cheat because otherwise I would wither away from lack of an emotional intimate connection.

I loved him, but had to escape a life of loneliness.


This is me i am nearly 30 and have been married under a year. My wife is the most emotional person i know but i cannot connect with her or how she feels. It's not that i don't want to. i do. i really do so much.

we moved to a new country and i know it was hard for her but in my head i just say deal with it. When she cries i look at her and think why are you crying? It kills me and i really hate being like this.

my marriage is now over and i feel like I'm losing myself everything just seems to be slipping away. I know i love her. i really do. it's just i don't seem to know how to love. i have probably cried twice last year and the thing is i get upset but with random events like tv programs that other people would never cry at. it drives me crazy.

thanks for letting me share this.


I can't believe I've found this site - what a relief. To cut a long story short I think my husband may have a degree of alexithymia.

Over the past decade with him I have felt so alone, misunderstood and unappreciated. I've also had to put up in his use of porn and now I'm wondering if there is some relationship between his lack of intimate emotions and his need to look at other women even though he swear blind he love me.

The way I see it is that he doesn't have to show any emotions to them or worry about what they are feeling.


I'm starting to think that my soon to be ex-husband fits this description. It seems to be more than just differences in communication between men and women.

I have thought that the part of his brain that deals with interpersonal relationships is not highly developed. My therapist nodded in agreement when I told her my perspective on that.

He just coldly told me he was leaving me. I kept trying to draw him out to talk. He would say why bother talking, it's inadequate. I have realized that he has no empathy for me. This is all very sad.


My older sister told me today she has alexithymia. I had no idea what it was, but she described it in one sentence, "i can't explain my emotions and don't really know what it's like to feel."

I sat there with my mouth wide open and had no idea what to say. I then had to run to my room and began to cry. Not only does alexithymia affect my sister but me as well. That one sentence put me into a state of shock.

I have always been such a passive person. Ever since i was younger i didn't know what it felt to be happy. To this day i still don't, or at least i don't think i do. If i was feeling hurt at a young age, i would not talk for hours or days on end, because i simply didn't know how to deal with it.

I struggle to make an emotional connection to anyone, and have none whatsoever with my dad, mum or brothers and sisters.

Recently i was in my first relationship, where my boyfriend would constantly complain about how i was so "emotionally distant" and he would be the one showing all the affection. I would try to show him affection too, but only how i had learned it was "supposed" to be done, not because it felt right.

I've tried to explain to close friends how i don't "feel here" or feel numb, but I'm so lost for words i end up confusing myself and dismissing the idea.

If something huge happens in my life, i won't express any emotions until maybe weeks later. Or sometimes i will just let it all slide.

Most of the time i just don't feel like I'm here simply. I've wanted to see a therapist to discuss it but wouldn't know where to begin. Nothing is wrong in my life, and i wouldn't know how to explain how i feel.

I could go on and on and on, but after researching this for hours on end today, it describes me to a tee. I'm only 18 and have been like this since i can remember.


I think the enneagram personality types can help you people to understand the psychological functioning of alexithymia people.

In my opinion an alexithymia individual is an unhealthy 5 or an unhealthy 9. If the individual is intelligent, sharp, logical and has a super brain, he is most certainly an enneagram type 5. On the other hand if he is emotionally numb, easy to be around and only emotion shown by him is anger, he is definitely an enneagram type 9. Moreover, if you find yourself to be emotionally reactive then you are either a type 4 or a type 8 though you can also be a type 6. Just research enneagram type __ (the number) and read the description.

The description is such that it starts with pointing out the positive qualities of the personality type that the person can exhibit when he/she is healthy. Do not get put off by the good qualities mentioned in the initial part of the description.

These are the qualities that the particular type can exhibit when he/she is psychologically healthy. Your spouse, on the other hand, is stuck at an unhealthy level. It is possible for them to get more healthy only if they are themselves willing to change. This change cannot be brought about from outside.

The enneagram is a guideline to follow, but to be followed by the person internally. Forcing the enneagram on them would make them develop a defense against it very fast.

The 9 different psychological health levels are given below the type description. Beneath that there are recommendations for personal growth and relationship compatibilities among different types.

There are enneagram tests also available on the internet. I have personally found the enneagram very very helpful in life. I am a type 4 and used to be lost in fantasies. Only now I am embracing life and realizing possibilities.

I hope the enneagram will be able to help you people as well.

Love and regards.


Pat: if you think you can live with your partner the way he is because he can't change,then you have to find a way to live your life by fulfilling your needs, loving yourself, friends, going out, reading, gardening, working, voluntary work for charities etc., because if you don't you will drive yourself insane, and end up resenting your husband who can't and won't ever change.

So, you have to change now to make life bearable, and peaceful and believe me it can be done. I'm living proof. Please remember life is to live,not to exist. If you really can't live with the situation anymore, then get out and start afresh. Good luck in whatever you do.


Geez this is my situation all over. My husband and I are a young married couple. Married early now in our thirties. We have three children. All in all we are a very happy family and we have a very happy marriage, until an emotional issue arises.

My husband is starting to learn to react to my emotional issues by cuddling and trying to reassure me, but it does not come naturally to him and he is doing it by learned behaviors of me telling him what I need from him.

I am a highly emotional person which does not help the situation at all and only serves to make it worse. I am now learning to control my emotions in order to not cause problems in our marriage. All in all it has been very difficult, there have been many times when we have nearly separated and my husband does not show his concern for whether our marriage works at all. I have fought to keep our marriage together and I will continue to fight until I can physically and emotionally fight no more because I love him.

I now try to support him as much as I can because sometimes he looks so desperately lost and confused and it breaks my heart to see him like this. Our marriage is not just about me and I know I have to be there to support him through this too, and that is what I will continue to do.

My husband has a delayed emotional reaction and eventually after days of silence does recognize how he feels, so this gives me hope and spurs me on. I've had ten years of marriage with my husband and some of those years have been utter darkness and despair for me, even leading to a suicide attempt but I have to understand his needs as much as my own, as much as I am over emotional, he is under emotional.

I love and accept him despite that and will continue to keep fighting for him. It hurts me and sometimes I feel so unloved and lonely, but he is a lovely, kind, caring and loving man at the best of times and I hope I never give up on him. Wishing all others in my situation the best to cope with it. Sarah V


Unbelievable. I have been married to Shirl for 23 years and it has been exactly as you all describe. Now the girls we share can't figure out their Mom could just up and leave without feelings after all these years.

I know. She baked and cleaned and had some fun but was just never really plugged in. I could go on and on but you all listed my life already. Shirl has a brother and an old sister the same way. Very sad. So women can have it too and that is hard on a romantic guy. Wasted time. Don.


Dear previous posts: I've just been researching AS and found this info about alexithymia. My husband sounds like these other men and I am like the other wives. My suggestion to all wives is *not* to stay with someone who hits you. On the positive side, you may find it helpful to find an outlet for your need to connect with people such as a job(if you don't work); volunteering; or attending a church where you can participate in the activities of the church. I have a large family that fills many of my needs; also a business that I've had many years; and a church family that has welcomed me and has encouraged me to participate. -womantowoman48


I know this story all too well- he will not change - he is not withholding- he cannot do what you are asking - it would be like asking someone to change their eye color - it can't happen. In my HB's case it is genetic. His father was this way. He has one son who is the same way. My HB is genius level- works a job that requires extreme intelligence and does it well. Operates purely on a logic based system. i think back to when we were dating and he said the right things to get me interested. The way it works is that he can say what he thinks you want to hear but he has no clue that there should be meaning behind his words. He thought it was a guy thing until he met my brothers- very European emotional types. He is a good provider- can fix anything - will answer any logic based or factual question that you ask him, but will walk away from emotional conversations. He can be silent for days or weeks- never asks for sex. Can sit in the same positions watching sports for hours but does not have a favorite team or player. Doesn't participate in holidays, birthdays, etc. Frustrating beyond belief. I am starting to not care about him at all. I will be leaving - no rush - there is no fighting if I ignore the situation which is where I am right now.


My husband and I have been together for a long time and we have a beautiful family. However we fight and the fight is always about one thing, I feel he doesn't love me. He says it all the time, but I just don't see any emotion behind it. He says he is satisfied in our relationship, I don't see that he is truly happy or whole. He avoids any situation that may cause emotion. I am depressed because I feel neglected and unsure of where I stand in his life. Like I said he will say he loves me, he will do whatever I tell him to do (a.k.a. dishes) and everyone says I have a great husband, but there is no intimacy and sex is just about the physical and not the emotional. I feel love has nothing to do with any facet of our relationship. He has after all these years learned what to do to not make me mad. He will buy flowers, jewelry, etc. But it's as if he's doing what he can to keep me quiet. When I bring up my unhappiness he stares blankly, he says he don't know how he feels. I've cried and cried and said I wanted a divorce because I couldn't take it, and he still will stare blankly with no emotion. He looks down on me and says I am way too sensitive. I know as a woman I probably will always be more sensitive, but it is hard to live with someone that you aren't sure of how they feel about you, or worse, if they feel anything for you at all. The only emotion I have seen is anger and when he gets fed up with me trying to pull emotion out of him he has left, eventually he comes back with an unemotional "sorry" and he has a real need for live to go back to the routine (an emotionless marriage). I wish there was something I could do because I love this man and I think we would both be happier if he could express his feelings, hell, even know what his feelings are because he doesn't know. He is willing to talk to me, but it is about daily life, like kids, work, etc. It has been hard on me and I feel like I am the one that is crazy, I am on antidepressants, and sometimes I just want to run away from it all. After awhile, I have actually wanted to be cold like him, but I don't have that ability, I love and I love hard and I can't help expressing it. What do I do?


I am almost hyperventilating at reading all the above. The descriptions of these relationships are a facsimile of my situation. There is no point in repeating my situation because the descriptions are numbingly real and accurate and consistent with my own. I have been going crazy for the last three years, trying to put my finger on understanding how my boyfriend can act so coldly, stoic, seemingly without feeling, socially distant, just oddly detached, and yet at the same time have this almost moral standard of care and love. If I show an extreme of any emotion, sad or excited, it throws him off. It's as if he doesn't know how to deal with it. Usually if I try and talk about my feelings, calmly and with care, he sort of seems to divert listening. And if he responds in anyway to my feelings, it comes much, much later. It's as if he doesn't forget, but he takes a long, long time to acknowledge. So many times I have just wanted to say - let me cry on your shoulder, or just comfort me when I feel sad, and it feels like there is a disconnect. Like he just is not able. Even though I can sense he has a concern - he just doesn't know what to do with it. And his behavior goes beyond your stereotypical - men have a hard time expressing their feelings. And just like the other descriptions he is highly intelligent, super-functional, like he is super handy around the house, very methodical, and can be social although really only does well with one on one. I find though he often seems to 'read' situations the wrong way. He has perplexed me for some time, and there are days that I feel as if I am going crazy. Many people ask me but why do I put up with it? And I think, is there something wrong with me to be attached to someone who is so detached. But the truth is, despite his detachment, he is very loyal, deep down very loving - again probably his order of this need for moral obligation - and I guess I know this, even though it seems he can't show it. But I don't know if I can handle it anymore. Are there any support groups out there? Or research on ways to cope?


I can say I can relate to anon18566 whose husband is 61, not romantic and all the other stuff she said about her alexithymic husband. My husband has no emotions about anything, and can't figure out why I get so emotional as I do. He just ignores me for days until I settle down and start talking to him again. I am really sick of his behavior and really can't deal with it anymore. I have threatened to divorce him several times but can't afford it. I don't think I have the patience for him when I expect to get from him what any married woman wants from her husband: sex, understanding and a warm shoulder to cry on and someone to help me make decisions that a couple does together. I feel like I am so alone living with him I could die. I hate the feeling. I wish I knew who to talk to about it. He was diagnosed with alexithymia but nobody about our state seems to know anything about it. What should I do?


Wow i'm pretty sure i'm alexithymic and i wouldn't wish this on anyone. People say that they have loved ones who suffer from this but I couldn't fathom having a functional friendship much less a relationship. Alcohol allows me to express my feelings and enjoy the moment but without it i cannot carry on a conversation that doesn't strictly involve facts. So my attempts at maintaining relationships have failed and i keep my friends at bay because i don't even know how to be normal (express myself) around them. I wish someone could help. Talking to my psych doesn't seem to help really because if im unable to put my true feelings out there it seems pointless.


OMG Does that mean that my name Alexis means "no words?" or "without words"?


I was dating a guy who is alexithymic. He is over all a really great guy, very outgoing, social, people friendly. I have read so many web sites to help myself understand more about alexithymia. He just recently broke off our relationship and told me it was because he was protecting me from him. I just want to know if there is anything that I can do on my part to help him cope with what's going on, sometimes he seems so lost and confused, I just want to help. Does anyone have any suggestions for me on what can be done?


Is alexithymia is a trait or disorder?


We have been married 61 years. My husband is not a romantic, either verbally with appreciation, compliments, encouragement, or such, not given to hugs, pats on the back, or interested in sex. Has difficulty expressing emotions and I find it cruel and abusive to hold back this communication if deserved. I raised five children who are terrific basically alone, and thank goodness, none are like their father. He has one emotion, though. That is anger. Throws things, breaks things, hits me. I stayed in marriage because, even though I worked all our married lives, two salaries were needed to help our children through schools who are all professionals and successful. I wanted to leave many times but because of what I wanted in help for the children played the hypocrite for all that this was a good marriage, which it wasn't. I am now alone with him at this stage and terribly sad, lonely, and depressed. Thank you for the chance to discuss this.


The letter about the married couple- histrinic woman and alexythmic man is interesting, sad and predictable. Alexythymics are competent and confident. For a sensitive woman, hoping to become more thick skinned, he may have seemed like a "knight in shining armor." She probably seemed attractive, warm and loving. She probably hoped that his confidence would rub off on her and that he would take care of her because he seemed so capable. But, when he felt inadequate, scared, stressed, as all human beings in the world feel- no matter how competent, he did not tell her, or even himself these feelings. Instead, he remained cold, or even worse provoked her emotions in such a subtle way that she could only seem crazy if she accused him of doing so. So she became more emotional, feeling alone, and thus became histrionic. As he saw her despair, he developed more self control, realizing that emotions are bad and of no value- while consciously and making sincere efforts to avoid behavior that she specifically told him provokes her. But only that specific behavior that she mentioned, to the letter. So she became more sensitive, he more alexythmic. In truth, he needed a "knight in shining armor" more than she did. He needed a wife who would love him and accept him regardless of his confidence or competence, who would "read" him and reassure him even as he hid his feelings from her and from himself. And her confidence would be built up by being there for him, not the other way around. These types attract each other- and I hope someone's marriage and children benefit from this post.


I am trying to learn so much more about people who show no emotions. My sister just moved back home after living away for almost 13 years. She was married and I think the marriage became quite bitter and maybe even abusive. She is like a different person now. Just this evening she totaled my mother's car as she was on her way to work and showed no emotion as to what she had done. She called my mother to let her know and was more concerned about getting to work that what had just happened. The police says she was very lucky. She hit a tree. The worst part is that she didn't really know what happened. Maybe she got sleepy b/c she works 10 hrs from 7pm to 5am. The family is just trying to figure her out. She just passed two drug tests with the two jobs she now has. Any help or advice would be greatly appreciated.


I found this article helpful.

I suspect that my husband may also be alexithymic. The article posted by pat sounds very much like us. However, I wonder if this is yet another elusive psychological category where only some symptoms apply. My hubby does seem mystified about emotions. Yet he does occasionally display anger, even throwing articles across the room. So this seems to defy the categorization. He also seems to fit "schizoidal type".

I only wish I knew how to find a competent counselor who could accurately diagnose. But I doubt there are many, so I will probably continue to live my life emotionally and intellectually alone until my cancer mets finish me.


Great article!

There is a free discussion forum devoted to alexithymia called the "ALEXITHYMIA EXCHANGE".

There is some lively conversation going on there exploring this subject.

Dr. Alex


I found this on the net and thought they were talking about me and my husband. i haven't stop crying since.

"Some time ago, I met a married couple who have struggled to cope with the husband’s alexithymia for nearly 40 years.

He is completely unable to process or comprehend emotions, and is always focusing on external things. He is socially skilled, non-quirky and does not shows signs of Asperger's syndrome. In fact, he is the most prototypical example of an alexithymic I have ever met. He is always level-headed, operates on a purely functional level. He doesn’t complain about work, he is very handy round the house, willingly tackling big renovation jobs, and is never rude, selfish or abrasive. He's very practical and helpful. He and never gets depressed or self-obsessed. By contrast, his wife is highly emotional and often histrionic.

*She* is the one who is utterly depressed and requires constant, strong medication. But he is unable to relate to her on a feeling level or to soothe her raw emotions. She cites his constant placidity as the main source of her debilitating grief. A battery of psychologists and psychiatrists have been called in over the years, to no avail. A few years ago, they "finally" split up and moved to different areas, but a year later circumstances forced them back together. Despite all the drama and interventions, he hasn't changed a bit, although he does what he can to stop irritating her. She still can't deal with his emotional blankness. I've talked to both of them about it, and as far as I can see there is no prospect of him ever changing. So what advice to offer? Should they continue to work on it, or finally call it quits? It's a tough decision."

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