Affective inhibition may be partly defined as the difficulty of identifying and expressing one’s emotions and feelings . Some schools of psychology define this condition as “alexitimia”, a term that comes from Greek “a” (without), “lexis” (word) and “thimos” (affection). In this sense, it means “without words for affections”.
Many people with affective inhibition experience emotions and feelings. The problem is that it is very difficult for them to identify them and, therefore, express them. Not everyone lives this situation with the same intensity . In some cases this phenomenon is not so profound, in others, there is total dissociation from the affective and emotional world.
A person with alexitimia can not understand whether what he or she is feeling is love or friendship, for example. It will also be weighed in answering a question like “how are you?”, It will say “good” or “bad” but will not specify what that “good” or “bad” means. He will not say he is “angry”, “enthusiastic” or “sad”. In extreme cases, these people respond with silence or always say “good,” almost automatically because they understand that this is the answer that others expect.
Traits that indicate affective inhibition
The most characteristic feature of affective inhibition is coldness . It is as if these individuals did not experience anything, and in fact, in the most extreme cases, they actually just can not hear anything. The symptoms are similar to those of a depressed person, but in this case they are more accentuated. The most visible are:
- They do not like it or just do it.
- They do not care about their sex life.
- They are conformists.
- They move rigidly and slowly.
- They have little social life.
- Lack of vitality.
- They are impulsive.
- Almost always seem serious and bored.
- They do not have fantasies and make it difficult to use imagination.
- If they establish ties, they are usually based on addiction.
- They never say ” I love you “.
There are two types of affective inhibition, or alexitimia. The first type is the primary affective inhibition, the person in question behaves this way since birth . In this case it corresponds to a neurological anomaly.
The second type of affective inhibition is the secondary one, which is manifested as a result of physical or psychological trauma or after prolonged periods of intense stress .
According to several researchers, in most cases, affective inhibition is also influenced by socio-cultural factors. There are family communication models that push the inhibition of emotions. In some social or scholastic environments, saying what you feel is a reason to reproach . Often a pattern of “good emotions” and “bad emotions” is imposed, one can speak of good ones, but of bad ones.
The negative consequences of not expressing emotions
The most serious cases of affective inhibition require therapy, which usually lasts longer. You may also have to resort to neurological intervention. Everything seems to indicate that the root of this condition is a disconnection between the two brain hemispheres . It may be corrected, but in some special cases it is impossible.
Less serious cases, or the majority, may follow a different healing program. Sometimes a person inhibits the expression of his affections simply because he has not learned to do the opposite. Generally, in the past, this person has been forced to shake his affections, as in some environments the lack of emotional expression is seen as a sign of self-control . Likewise, there are cases where emotional silence is the “natural” response to an unresolved trauma.
In any case, what is certain is that the impossibility of defining and expressing one’s emotions involves a number of consequences in life. First, intellectual functions decay. Emotions play a key role in acquiring new knowledge and memory, mainly. The affective world is also the basis of investigative and creative ability . Consequently, a person with affective inhibition will be fragile from an intellectual point of view.
Secondly, as is obvious, social life suffers and is reduced to the minimum of expression. There is no possibility of establishing deep ties with others. Life becomes dry and this in turn accentuates the inhibition itself . This is a dysfunction that can be treated. Affections and emotions are the salt of life. If you suspect you have these symptoms or recognize them in a person of your knowledge, then seek help.