Alexithymics — People without Feelings

By Charles H. Elliott, Laura L. Smith, W. Doyle Gentry

Alexithymia is a word used to describe people who appear to lack emotions — including anger. Alexithymia is thought to be a fairly stable personality trait but isn’t a formal, psychological diagnosis in and of itself. Alexithymics tend to

  • Have difficulty identifying different types of feelings

  • Appear stiff and wooden in relating to others

  • Lack emotional awareness

  • Lack enjoyment

  • Have trouble distinguishing between emotions and bodily feelings

  • Appear overly logical when it comes to decision making

  • Lack sympathy for others

  • Appear perplexed by other people’s emotions

  • Be unmoved by art, literature, and music

  • Have few, if any, emotional memories (for example, memories of childhood)

Don’t disconnect from your feelings to manage your anger. You want to have emotions but you want to be in control of those emotions. You want to let anger move you to write a letter to the editor in your local newspaper about some social injustice. You want your anger to move you to stand up for yourself when your talents are being exploited in the workplace.

Anger that says to your spouse, “Hey, something is not working here” is good for a marriage. But if your anger only moves you to hurt others — or yourself — then you definitely have a problem. Think of anger as a tool that can help you throughout life if you know how to use it.