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No Emotions, please: Alexithymia and Anankastia (Rigid Perfectionism)

Uploaded 2/17/2024, approx. 36 minute read

Of course, the main characteristic of empathic people like me is the ability to recognize emotions in other people and to interpret them and label them correctly.

If you are devoid of this capability, if you are incapable of recognizing emotions in yourself in other people and identifying them for what they are, you are suffering from Alexithymia, which is a topic of today's video.

I'm going to propose a new way of looking at Alexithymia based on the work of the French psychoanalyst Joyce McDougall coupled with new insights in the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases.

And why am I doing this to you?

On a beautiful weekend, it's because I'm Sam Wacknin, the author of Malignant Self-Love, Noisicism Revisited, a former visiting professor of psychology and currently on the faculty of CEAPs, Commonwealth Institute for Advanced Professional Studies.

Alexithymia, it is.

I want to link Alexithymia to something known as Anancastia.

Anancastia is a fancy word for rule-based perfectionism.

It makes an appearance in the latest edition of the International Classification of Diseases as a trait domain one of five.

There's also dissociality, negative affectivity, etc., etc.

Now, it is very reminiscent of obsession compulsion.

In the fifth edition, text revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, we have Obsessive-Compulsive Personality Disorder, which is the rough equivalent of Anancastic Personality Disorder.

So traits in this domain, Anancastia, include perfectionism, perseveration to persevere, emotional and behavioral constraint, stubbornness, deliberativeness, orderliness, and concern with following rules and meeting obligations.

This is the excellent definition proposed by Altman's and Vidigar in 2018.

When you listen, when you put together these behaviors and traits and qualities and so on and so forth, you are reminded vaguely of conscientiousness, one of the five factors in the famous five-factor model of personality.

But this equivalence is superficial because Anancastia and conscientiousness are not synonyms.

Conscientiousness is an element in Anancastia.

And the motivation for conscientiousness in the five-factor model is prosocial, while the motivation for conscientiousness within Anancastian has nothing to do with society or with social functioning.

It has to do with rigid internalized imperatives, catastrophizing and ritualizing against catastrophe.

We'll come to it a bit later.

And so as the authors that I mentioned before say that at its core Anancastia involves a narrow focus on the control of behavior to ensure that things conform to the individual's particularistic ideas.

So it's about the individual, not about society.

And that's why Anancastia is not conscientiousness.

Anancastia is often linked to other trait domains.

For example, when Anancastia is linked with dissociality and with negative affectivity, we get something that is roughly the equivalent of narcissistic personality disorder in the DSM.

A person high on Anancastia may have other adaptive qualities associated with extreme rigidity, with perfectionism, with a bit of sadism, with stubbornness, with insistence, with perseverance.

Passive aggression is usually the outcome of Anancastia.

The varying degrees of Anancastia, of course, will not go into it right now.

There's literature included in the description of this video and you may wish to avail yourself of this literature.

Why did I start a video about Alexithymia with Anancastia?

Because I think there's a connection.

Alexithymia is a rejection of emotion, at least according to the psychoanalytic model, the advanced psychoanalytic model by Jones-Mendougal.

There is an element of rejection of emotion.

Whether it is unconscious and whether it is conscious, emotion is excluded, denied, repressed, ignored.

There's a pretension as if emotion does not exist.

Why would you do that?

Only if you believe that emotions are imperfect, that emotions are a weakness, a vulnerability, something that is dysregulated and disruptive and dangerous.

People with Alexithymia reject emotions because they consider emotions to be a kind of perturbation, a kind of imperfection, a kind of malfunction or dysfunction.

In other words, people with Alexithymia reject emotions because emotions render them imperfect.

And of course, Anancastia is about the pursuit of perfection.

That's why I'm linking the two.

I think people who reject emotionsgenerally speaking, alexithymia or not, are people who are unencased, people who suffer from unencased here, people who are perfectionistic.

Very often we find perfectionistic people who are also emotionless, rigid, cold, detached, cruel even.

There's a cruelty involved in the pursuit of perfectionism because you are setting yourself up for failure, it's self-destructive, but you're also setting up everyone else for failure.

No one can measure up to your standards. Everyone keeps failing. Everyone keeps disappointing you. You keep disappointing yourself.

So it is a form of externalized and passive-aggressive aggression.

Perfection is a way to render everyone miserable, yourself, your workers, employees, spouses, children, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and so on.

They all keep failing. They're all imperfect.

Of course, perfectionism sits ill, cannot occupy the same space as emotionality.

Because if you're emotional, you're bound to tolerate imperfection. You're bound to accept compromised standards in everyone around you because you're emotional, you love them, for example.

So emotions and perfectionism don't go together.

If you're a perfectionist, you need to suppress your emotions or ignore them somehow.

And if you are an emotional person, let alone a dysregulated person like a borderline, you cannot be a perfectionist.

Indeed, in borderline personality disorder, also known as emotional dysregulation disorder, there's no an encastia.

There's no perfectionism.

So I think alexithymia is a form of perfectionism, emotional blindness.


Now, there's a huge debate whether there's some neurological foundation or genetic template which yield later on in life alexithymia.

No one knows.

There's no proof to the contrary.

And all the studies that have been published are, to put it shoritably, less than rigorous, especially in studies in neuroscience.

But we do know that people with alexithymia fail to recognize, to express, and to describe their own emotions and also emotions in other people.

And it's extremely reminiscent of autism spectrum disorder.

Indeed, something like three quarters of people with autism spectrum disorder have also been diagnosed with alexithymia.

And we do know there's a connection between autism spectrum disorders and certain personality disorders, and especially narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders.

We also know there's some connection between attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, ADHD, autism spectrum disorder, and narcissistic and antisocial personality disorder.

They all interconnected somehow.

And perhaps the underlying connection, perhaps the thing that generates this constant comorbidity is alexithymia.

Problems with emotions. Problems recognizing emotions, interacting with emotions, expressing emotions, accepting emotions, embracing emotions.

All these create extreme issues with attachment and interpersonal relations, as I will discuss in a minute.

Now alexithymia sometimes goes hand in hand with alexisomia.

Alexisomia is a new, relatively new, clinical concept.

It's the difficulty in the awareness and the expression of somatic or bodily sensation.

It's like being divorced from the body.

We have this in cerebral narcissism.

There is alexisomia in cerebral narcissism.

The cerebral narcissist is both alexithymic and alexithymic.

He has both alexithymia and alexisomy.

There is no scientific consensus, as I said, whether alexithymia is a personality trait, a medical symptom, a mental disorder, neurodevelopmental issue, and so on and so forth.

But we do know that this thing exists.

Actually, there's about a dozen tests for alexithymia, dedicated tests to alexithymia.

We also believe that alexithymia occurs anywhere between 5 and 10% of the general population.

And we know for sure that it co-occurs with mental disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, but also certain personality disorders.

There is a difficulty in recognizing and discussing emotions.

Now alexithymia could be subclinical.

In certain cultures, for example, it's not okay to express emotions. This is frowned likely to express emotions than women, owing to cultural conditions, conditioning, acculturation, and socialization.

Norms of masculinity, especially by the way, toxic masculinity.

Sadness, for example, is considered a feminine emotion.

Men don't cry.

It's a form of alexithymia, culture-bound alexithymia, known clinically as normative male alexithymia.

I'm not talking about this.

These are cultural phenomena.

And when the environment changes, cultural and social mores are transformed.

The attitude to emotions similarly undergoes a transformation.

So we are not talking about this.

It's not a clinical entity.

We're talking about people who, regardless of age, of gender, of culture, of society, are unable to express emotions because they are not aware of any emotions.

They can't recognize emotions in themselves and in others.

They cannot label them.

They cannot identify them.

They cannot recognize them.

They cannot act on them.

And the question here is why.

So I adhere to two answers, not the genetic one, not neurodevelopmental.

I adhere to two answers, the psychoanalytic one and the cognitive behavioral one.

And I'll come to that in a minute.

But first, what are the impacts of alexithymia in relationships?

Huge, huge impact.

Emotions are the foundation and the pivot of relationships.

In the absence of emotions, there's no relationships.

Period.

Sex is a way to communicate emotions within relationships.

It's just an extension of emotions.

Even cognitions are related to emotions.

Memories cannot be recalled without emotions.

If there's an impaired access to emotions, there is overwhelming dissociation.

There are memory gaps.

Because when we remember something, we remember not only the event, but how we felt, how we felt at the time.

And the event and the emotions attendant upon the event are stored as a memory and recreated on the fly when we try to recall something.

If we have trouble interacting with emotions, then we have trouble forming memories.

And in the absence of memory, there's no identity.

And in the absence of memory and identity, what kind of relationships could we ever hope to have?

None.

Indeed, there are serious problems in relationships with people with alexithymia.

And again, I propose that alexithymia is a form of perfectionism, the rejection of emotions, because they render the person imperfect and render the world substandard and dysregulated, not ruled rigidly.

So in close relationships, the alexithymic person acquires a position of independence, dominance, impersonal interaction.

It is very reminiscent of an insecure attachment style, avoidant, for example, or fearful to some extent.

But it's not.

It's not about the attachment style.

There's no attachment there, not because the individual is incapable of attachment, but because there's no emotional input.

So the individual is unable to form bonds.

I would call it flat attachment.

And I have several videos dedicated to this.

The relationship remains superficial, which is more or less the language the DSM uses in the alternative model of narcissistic personality disorder, by the way.

So there's an act when you when the alexithymic person is unable to differentiate between self and others.

He cannot tell the difference between external objects and internal objects.

Sounds familiar?

It's narcissism.

It's exactly what happens in narcissism.

The narcissism is unable to perceive the separateness and the externality of other people.

Instead, he interacts with internal objects that represent these people in his mind.

And this is exactly what has been observed with alexithymic people.

The difficulty in processing interpersonal connections develops with age probably because of constant failures.

And so there's been a huge study of alexithymic individuals.

They use something called the IIP64 questionnaire.

Never mind.

They came to the following conclusion.

Two interpersonal problems are significantly and stably related to alexithymia called distant and non-assertive social functioning.

All other sub-scales, by the way, were not significantly related to alexithymia.

So the interpersonal relationships of people with alexithymia are painful to the partner, very helpful and very chaotic.

As Syphonus, a scholar by the name of Syphonus, has observed.

They're in hearing difficulties in identifying and describing emotional states in self and in others.

And alexithymia negatively affects relationships.

And so there's this growing dissatisfaction, especially of the partner.

There was a study in 2008 and alexithymia was correlated to impaired understanding and demonstration of relational affection.

This impairment contributed to poor outcomes in mental health, relational well-being, relationship quality and so on and so forth.

This sounds a lot, a lot like relationships with narcissists and psychopaths, where the lack of empathy is such that there is not true interest in the partner.

Intimacy can never grow in on such soil.

This is infertile soil, arid.

Individuals high on alexithymia report less distress when they see other people in pain and they are less altruistic and of course less empathic.

As I started the video, I started the video by saying that emotions are the foundation of empathy.

And so alexithymia as a clinical entity, as a mental health issue, is destructive to one's life and one's relationship.

All interpersonal relationships, not only romantic, are founded on emotions, the reading of emotions, the decoding of emotions, the anticipation of emotions, the interpretation of emotions and the experiencing of emotions of course.

If you lack all these, you are not human in a basic sense and definitely you are not able to decipher humans or to read them properly.

You misinterpret cues, social, sexual and individual psychological cues.

So there are environments where alexithymia is encouraged, for example in the army or in an operating theatre, in a hospital or if you are a cop, a policeman.

So whenever you come across situations where emotions would be disruptive to functioning would endanger or undermine functioning, you are encouraged to be alexithymia, which again convinces me that alexithymia could be and probably is an acquired feature, an acquired mental health element, whatever it may be.

What I believe is that alexithymia reflects a set of expectations from oneself, internalized expectations.

If one perceives oneself as a bad object, then one must cleanse oneself, one must establish rituals to fend off the evil within.

There's catastrophizing going on.

I'm a bad object, I'm going to do bad things, I'm going to end badly, I'm going to hurt people around me, including my nearest and dearest.

And so the individual develops withdrawal symptoms, an avoidance strategy, which is I think another way of capturing the essence of alexithymia.

French psychoanalyst, inappropriately named Joyce McDougall, sort of a very French name, she suggested that alexithymia is not actually a neuropsychological thing.

She introduced an alternative term, she called it disaffectation.

She said that alexithymia is psychogenic, it is a psychological thing and it involves disaffectation.

The disaffected individual according to her had at some point, as she puts it, I'm quoting, experienced overwhelming emotion that threatened to attack their sense of integrity and identity.

And then they had to defend themselves against this, for example, abuse and trauma in early childhood.

They had to create boundaries and to protect themselves somehow.

But the solution they have chosen is to eliminate emotions.

Exposure to the environment, exposure to caretakers and caregivers, parental figures, primary objects, influential peers, role models, teachers, exposure to these people has become very painful and hurtful and threatened the functioning and the integrity of the self.

So the child chooses to not feel, to pulverize and eject and reject all emotional representations from consciousness, to repress emotions, to pretend that they don't exist.

And this is exactly what the narcissist does.

The narcissist self inhibits, the narcissist refuses to access his positive emotions because they are intimately and inextricably linked to negative emotions.

The narcissist says, if I were to feel love, I would also be forced to experience shame and pain.

If I were to go through the motions of intimacy, I would also experience rejection and abandonment, so better not.

Alexithymia is a crucial aspect of narcissism.

It is the narcissist's rejection of positive emotions.

The narcissist believes that positive emotions are vulnerabilities, weaknesses, dangerous risks while negative emotions are self efficacious.

Negative emotions get you places, allow you to attain goals and to self actualize.

So narcissist is a very strong on negative affectivity, envy, anger, hatred, but they are incapable of experiencing positive effects, positive emotions.

Le Doulou said that the disaffected individual has made a choice as a child.

And this is very reminiscent of phenomenologies in psychology.

I'll dedicate the video to the School of Psychology.

Anyhow, what MacDougall says is that all infants are born unable to emote, unable to identify, organize emotional experiences, unable to speak about emotions, unable to express emotions.

The word infant, by the way, is from Latin and it means not speaking.

So that's very apt.

And MacDougall said that infants are divorced from emotions by reason of their immaturity and they are, as she puts it, inevitably, "Alexithymic".

In 1985, MacDougall proposed that the "Alexithymic" part of an adult personality is probably an extremely arrested and infantile psychic structure.

Again, this is very reminiscent of narcissism.

The first language of an infant is nonverbal, mainly mother's facial expressions.

The child learns to read expressions and reflexively respond to them.

This is known as reflexive empathy.

The parent's emotional state is very crucial because the child needs to read the mother's face in order to gauge when, for example, to get food.

The child's survival and development crucially depend on the child's ability to decode mother.

So gradually the child gives up on "Alexithymia".

Why is that?

Because if you don't experience emotions yourself, you would be unable to decipher or decode or identify or recognize emotions in others.

It's exactly like self-love.

If you have never loved yourself, you would never be able to love and you would never be able to be loved by anyone because you would consider yourself unlovable.

So similarly, if you have never experienced emotions, you would never be able to recognize emotions in others and interpret them correctly and then act accordingly.

So the infant to survive has to give up on "Alexithymia".

But this is only when the mother is good enough.

When the parental figure is capricious, arbitrary, absent, metaphorically dead, depressive, selfish, instrumentalizing, parentified, in other words, when the parental figure, mainly the mother, is rejecting and frustrating, the child has no incentive to give up on "Alexithymia".

So we all start as "Alexithymia" and some of us never give up on it because we are not incentivized to give up on it.

There's no reward to giving up on "Alexithymia" and there's a very high reward for keeping it because if you're exposed to a bad parent, a withholding, avoiding, abusive, neglectful, fearful parent, then not experiencing emotions is a brilliant survival strategy.

Experiencing emotions has no beneficial outcomes.

So why would you?

It consumes energy and leads nowhere.

Only to frustration, only to rejection, only to abandonment and only to pain.

Emotions are bad, emotions are weaknesses, emotions are vulnerabilities.

These traumatized children remain "Alexithymic" for life.

Neglect or indifference in a child's facial expressions without proper feedback by the parent promotes invalidation of the child's facial expressions and later on of the child's emotional expressions.

The lack of validation, there is essentially negative reinforcement and the child regresses back to "Alexithymia", the safe haven of "Alexithymia" where emotions don't threaten him with pain and with hurt.

The parent's ability to reflect self-awareness is a crucial factor.

If the child's parents, especially the mother, if they are "Alexithymic" because they are narcissistic or schizoid or avoidant or whatever, then again the child has no incentive to transition from "Alexithymia" to "emotionality".

I think the transition from "Alexithymia" to "emotionality" is a close correlate or a reflection of the transition from narcissistic libido, self-invested libido and object relations.

The ability to discern the separateness and externality and existence of other people and the wish to interact with them.

This kind of wish, the very concept of object relations, crucially depend on access to emotions.

It is emotions of the engines of action, not cognitions.

Emotions are a form of cognition, but this subspecies of cognition is what drives action.

Emotions are directional.

You love someone, while cognitions are solipsistic and autistic. Your thoughts are inside your head. They don't have to motivate you. They don't have to move you outside yourself. Your thinking doesn't have to deal with the world as it is. Your thinking doesn't necessarily motivate you to act, but all emotions motivate you to act.

Anger, love, hatred, you name it. They're all motivational. They're all attitude-enhancing.


Watch a movie I posted yesterday about "conation".

So another model which I find useful was proposed by Pries, P-R-E-E-S-E, and his colleagues.

It's essentially an attention appraisal model of Alexithymia, cognitive behavioral framework, so to speak.

In this model, Alexithymia levels are due to the developmental level of people's emotional schema, the cognitive structures used to process emotions.

The extent to which people are avoiding their emotions is an emotion regulation strategy.

It's not very different.

This conception is not very different to McDougall's, by the way, and to mine modifications that I propose.

This avoidance of emotion, Alexithymia, is a strategy.

It's a choice.

It's a regulatory strategy, so a way to regulate your internal environment and to avoid being overwhelmed and dysregulated, as is the case in borderline personality disorder, for example.

So a person's Alexithymia is measured, can be measured.

I told you there are a dozen tests and so on and so forth.

In the attention appraisal model, we distinguish three components in Alexithymia.

Difficulty to identify feelings.

This is known as DIF.

Difficulty to describe feelings.

This is known as DDF.

And externally oriented thinking, EOT, tendency to not focus attention on emotions, actually to not focus attention on the internal world, but on the external world.

And this again links to Anand Kestia.

Anand Kestia is perfectionism, but it's about performance.

Anand Kestia is performance oriented and we perform in the external world.

Anand Kestia is public facing, is outward oriented, so it fits well with Alexithymia.

We used to think erroneously that Alexithymia goes hand in hand with inability to imagine, constricted imaginal processes, it was called.

In other words inability to fantasize, for example, or to daydream, or to plan, or to perceive other people appropriately, something known as Aphantasia.

That is not the case.

Today we know it's not the case.


Okay, so Alexithymia is, as we said, probably has psychodynamic roots, developmental, psychological developmental roots, as well as maybe neurological and genetic roots.

Michael Bagby and Graham Taylor suggested that Alexithymia is somehow related to an absence or lack or deficiency in psychological mindedness and emotional intelligence.

They said, and I'm quoting, "There is strong empirical support for Alexithymia being a stable personality trait rather than just a consequence of psychological distress."

Psychological mindedness is the capacity for self-examination, self-reflection, introspection, personal insight.

And again we're beginning to see the links with, for example, narcissistic personality disorder.

All these are lacking. Narcissists are very lacking when it comes to psychological mindedness, which includes also the ability to recognize meanings that underlie overt words and actions, to appreciate emotional nuance and complexity, to recognize links between past and present, to gain insight into one's and other's motivations and intentions.

So the narcissist lacks all these.

And what this psychology's Bagby and Taylor propose is that this is actually the problem with Alexithymia.

So in a way they're saying that Alexithymia is a form of narcissism, in effect.

They haven't said it, but this is the outcome of their work.

So mindedness, psychological mindedness, is a person's ability to see relationships among thoughts, feelings and actions with the goal of learning the meanings and causes of experiences and behaviors.

That's the definition.

I was just citing it.

It definitely describes the main lacuna, the main lack and deficiency in narcissism.

Similarly, emotional intelligence is the ability to perceive, use, understand, manage and handle emotions, recognize one's own emotions and other people's emotions, use emotional and information to guide thinking and behavior, discern between different feelings, label them appropriately, adjust emotions to adapt to environments.

All this is missing in narcissism.

So and this is Goldman, mainly Goldman's work, Daniel Goldman's work.

I'm going to discuss these issues in a future video much more at length.

So the Alexithymic person has typical deficiencies.

He has problems identifying, processing, describing and working with his own feelings.

There's a lack of understanding of the feelings of others, difficulty to distinguish feelings and bodily sensations such as arousal, confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions.

Human dreaming and fantasies are a bit different because they kind of lack emotions. They're more action oriented, detailed, highly specific detail, which again, they involve logical thinking.

And this again is strongly indicative of an an an anchistia.

The dreams of Alexithymic people are an anchastic. They are about performing. They're about action. They are about perfection. They're about getting things right. They're about logical sequences. There's no emotion there. There's no humanity in a way.

Indeed many Alexithymic people compare themselves to machinery or to robots, which is something narcissists do all the time. They're very logical. They're very realistic. They're very structured, very structural.

Now it's not that people with Alexithymia cannot experience anxiety, depression or dysphoria, cannot cry, cannot rage, cannot. That's not the issue here. It's not about the external manifestations of emotions, including effects. It's that they are incapable of describing what is happening to them. They appear confused when they're questioned. They mislabel things. That's why the narcissist mislabels the shared fantasy as love. Mislabels conation as desire.

There's a lot of misapprehension of the internal landscape. There's a reliance and dependence on other people, not only for regulation, but for reality testing, including emotional reality testing. What is it I'm feeling? Tell me.

According to Henry Crystal, individuals with Alexithymia think in an operative way. They appear to be super adjusted to reality, but in a very cold, calculated and machine-like manner. They are focused on the trivial. They are very attuned to chronology. Their reactions and events in daily life are perceived as monotonous, but orderly, rigidly orderly and structured.

This is all an encasement in effect.

So these individuals, Alexithymia individuals, seem to be oriented towards things. That's why they objectify themselves, describe themselves as robots or automatons, machines, and so on and so forth. Their responsiveness is very limited, not only to emotions, not only to other people's plight and conditions, not only to their environment, but also to proactive processes such as psychotherapy.

So they are capable of expressing emotions verbally, verbalizing emotions. That's a common misconception, a common myth. They are even capable of acknowledging that they are experiencing emotions, but they fail to identify. They mislabel them. That's very important to understand.

Decades before the term Alexithymia has been coined in 1967, Sifnios noted that patients often mention things like anxiety and depression. The distinguishing factor according to him was their inability to elaborate beyond a few limited adjectives.

So they would say, I'm happy, I'm unhappy, but they couldn't go further than that.

People with Alexithymia have poorly differentiated emotions. They have no ability to distinguish and describe emotions to other people. There's a sense of emotional detachment from oneself and from others, no connection to others. And consequently, they're very prone to anhedonia, inability to experience pleasure and to dysphoria, a general kind of diffuse sadness bordering on dysthymia or psychothemia.

So life satisfaction is very low, happiness is very low and so on and so forth.


One key issue in Alexithymia may be a problem with the theory of mind, an inability to conceive of other people's minds. What makes other people tick? The psychology of other people, the inner experience of other people, they're all foreign to Alexithymia people.

And two narcissists, is this a coincidence? I don't think so. I think there's a shared etiology and probably a shared psychopathology because Anand Kastia is an element in narcissism and Alexithymia is an element in narcissism. And the exact overlap is not clear. I'm not saying that I've solved the issue of how these disorders or problems overlap or interact even, but I'm quite sure there's a very strong connection.

I can conceive or reconceive of narcissism as a combination of perfectionism and Alexithymia and it would cover 90% of the problem in my view.

Difficulty to identify feelings, externally oriented thinking, they're common in ADHD for example as well. Hyperactivity goes with it and in autism spectrum disorder.

And we know that ADHD and ASD are increasingly more correlated with narcissism. And so another very important thing is that Alexithymia is diagnosed in well over 40% of people with post-traumatic stress disorder. So it's post-traumatic in a sense.

And this tends to lend support to Joyce McDougall's conception of Alexithymia. And to my contention that Alexithymia is associated with narcissism because narcissism is a post-traumatic condition.

Same as borderline, there's another personality disorder.

And this connection between PTSD and Alexithymia is pretty impressive. It's very strong. It's not that Alexithymia has been divorced from personality disorders. Alexithymia has been diagnosed, has been identified in personality disorders such as schizoid, avoidant, dependent, schizotypal personality disorders, anxiety disorders, certain sexual disorders and so on.

But I think it is also at the core of at least some dramatic erratic personality disorders such as narcissism and borderline.

The inability to modulate emotions why some people with Alexithymia are prone to what is called discharge tension arising from unpleasant emotional states through acting out, through impulsive acts, compulsive behaviors, which are very typical in borderline personality disorder and in conditions of extreme injury or modification in narcissism.

The failure to regulate emotions cognitively results in prolonged neural activity, so to speak, in the autonomic nervous system, in the neuroendocrine system and is closely associated with somatic diseases.

Anyhow, Crystal and Sifneos both suggested that limited ability to experience positive emotions is at the core of Alexithymia.

They said that people with Alexithymia are unhedonic. And I think this is one of the three key elements in pathological narcissism.

Lack of access, inability to experience positive emotions, inability even to identify positive emotions, mislabeling other things as positive emotions.

And this is where conflating Alexithymia with narcissism would add clinical insight rather than impair it.

Put together an anhedonia, Alexithymia, a narcissism and we may gain new insights as to the etiology and the developmental path of narcissistic disorders of the self, which include borderline personality disorder and to some extent histrionic and antisocial schizoid and paranoid avoidant personality disorders.

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Express Constructive Anger, Not Narcissistic Rage!

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the constructive expression of anger and the difference between anger and narcissistic rage. He emphasizes the importance of honest communication, describing one's state of mind, and asking for change as constructive ways to express anger. He also delves into the characteristics and manifestations of narcissistic rage, highlighting its internal nature and its impact on the narcissist's behavior and relationships.


BEWARE! Narcissists, Psychopaths are Immoral, Amoral (Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the moral development stages proposed by Lawrence Kohlberg, which include pre-conventional, conventional, and post-conventional levels. He also delves into the work of other scholars such as William Damon, who proposed a theory based on Kohlberg's stages. Vaknin emphasizes that narcissists and psychopaths are incapable of moral development due to their lack of empathy, emotional deficits, and impaired reality testing. He also critiques Kohlberg's theory, highlighting the absence of emotions in moral reasoning and the rigid cognitive approach. Vaknin suggests that the inability of narcissists and psychopaths to progress through moral development stages has significant implications for society. He also discusses the work of other scholars who have critiqued and expanded upon Kohlberg's theory.


Jokes, Humor: Sadistic, Cruel, Weaponized (Excerpt)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the nature of jokes and humor, emphasizing three key elements: lack of empathy, sadism, and therapeutic value. He explains that jokes often involve the absence of empathy and a sense of superiority over the subjects of the joke, leading to a form of sadism. Additionally, he suggests that jokes serve as a therapeutic outlet for socially unacceptable impulses and provide a safe space to express dark or aggressive thoughts. Vaknin views humor as a form of legitimate sadism and a social glue that creates intimacy and bonding among people.


lovebombinggroomingLove Bombing and Grooming: In Crosshairs of Narcissists, Sadists, Psychopaths

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the concept of demon possession and its relation to narcissism. He explores the historical and linguistic context of demon possession, comparing it to the vocabulary used in psychiatry. He delves into the psychological traits and behaviors associated with demon possession, drawing parallels to narcissism, psychopathy, and borderline personality disorder. Additionally, he examines the impact of brain injuries on personality disorders and the role of the false self in the narcissist's psyche.


How Narcissists Undermine Workplaces, Businesses (Game Changers Interview 2 of 3)

In this conversation, Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the effect of narcissism on the workplace. He explains that Western workplaces encourage the abuse of power and objectify workers, creating an incentive for both overt and covert narcissists. The hierarchy in Western workplaces is a Western invention, and it is part of Western civilization because the West organizes itself around industry. The only solution to narcissism and psychopathy in corporations and institutions is to transition from hierarchy to network, as the network organizational principle has numerous advantages and can counter the undue influence of narcissists and psychopaths.


Psychotic Grandiosity: The Case of Jesus "Christ", Narcissist

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the psychology and potential psychopathology of Jesus Christ, suggesting that he may have been a narcissist. He supports this claim by analyzing passages from the Gospel of Saint Matthew, highlighting instances of Jesus' grandiosity, lack of empathy, and manipulative behavior. Vaknin concludes that Jesus' narcissism ultimately led to his downfall, as people grew tired of his overbearing presence and destructive influence.


Resist When Narcissist Triggers You Inner Voices (Death, God, Life Introjects)

Professor Sam Vaknin discusses the three types of voices in a narcissist: the voice of death, the God voice, and the life voice. These voices are introjects that originate from parental figures, role models, and caregivers. When a narcissist enters a relationship, they implant these voices in their partner's mind, triggering corresponding introjects in the partner. To heal from a narcissistic relationship, one must identify and eradicate these implanted voices and replace them with their own authentic voice.

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