Web Definitions of Alexithymia

Online Definitions

The definitions to be found on internet dictionaries are admirably accurate, perhaps because they are simply trying to define the word without pushing a particular theory.

The Autism.org Glossary

Alexithymia: A disruption in both affective and cognitive processes. It is not treated as a 'true' psychiatric syndrome but rather as a general charactersation of a number of traits which are often seen together in a variety of disorders including those with psychosomatic origins and some addictions and drug-dependency disorders. Typically the alexithymic person has relatively undifferentiated emotions and thinking tends to dwell excessively on the mundane.


Iverson Software Dictionary of Terms & Terminology of Psychology

Alexithymia - A disturbance in affective and cognitive function that overlaps diagnostic entities but is common is psychosomatic disorders, addictive disorders, and post traumatic stress disorder. The chief manifestations are difficulty in describing or recognizing one’s own emotions, a limited fantasy life, and general constriction in the affective life.


Concise Medical Dictionary

alexithymia n. a lack of psychological understanding of one's own emotions and moods. It is considered by some psychiatrists to be a way in which people develop psychosomatic symptoms.



Alexithymia is an inability to recognize, experience and describe feelings. Anhedonia is an inability to recognize, experience and describe pleasurable feelings. There may be degrees of both alexithymia and anhedonia.

Since the capacity to feel emotions is a critical component of empathy, alexithymia can result in a decline in the capacity for empathy. A number of conditions can cause alexithymia including autism, Asperger's Syndrome, development failures, PTSD and injuries from encephalopathies.



Sifneos (1972) coined the term alexithymia to designate a group of cognitive and affective characteristics typical of many patients with psychosomatic illnesses. It is thought to be a personality trait that is characterized by a decreased ability to communicate feelings, a decreased ability to identify feelings, a cognitive tendency toward detail and external operations or events, and a paucity of imaginative thought, dream recall, or fantasy (Taylor, 1994).


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