Sunday, February 3, 2013

Alexi-- Alexi-- Alexithymia? -- Such a Mouthful! -- in BPD?

The Journal of Personality Disorders published a study suggesting that persons with BPD can often experience a condition known as alexithymia.  It refers one having extreme difficulty understanding emotional responses -- those of oneself and those of others.  The study suggests that those with BPD have a harder time understanding their own emotions -- particularly when it comes to difficult negative emotions like fear of relationship commitment -- than they do those of others.
As an article in Psychology Today put it,

The findings showed that people with BPD (compared to healthy controls) were less able to identify feelings, but it was the feelings within themselves that gave them the most challenge. Their difficulty was in putting themselves into the situations, especially when the feelings depicted were negative. Unlike people with antisocial personality disorder, individuals with BPD can feel compassion toward others and even empathy. It’s their own inability to tolerate (and therefore think about) negative emotions that seems particularly disturbed.

This has given me a lot to think about. I have read that many persons with BPD pride themselves on being able to "read" people well, but that, in controlled experiments, they often mistake neutral expressions for disapproval. I think that to have a consistently ability to interpret emotions from other people's body language accurately, one has to understand one's own emotions first.