Don't know how lucky we are
Most people view alexithymia as a problem. They seek to change. To be normal.
But I may have just had an insight into what being normal really is, which may help count our blessings.
I had surgery again recently. I'm used to this, and in the past, have viewed this extremely mechanically. I feel no fear, anxiety, stress, minimal pain as I am partially insensitive, no sense of vulnerability or even discomfort beyond the lack of sleep one gets with a nurse waking you every two hours. I have never required any support, I have always gone through surgeries completely alone, and felt nothing. I have been up doing yard work two days after major abdominal surgery once.
I have observed others in the hospital crying, needing their families there, or so afraid they have to be tranquilized or given local anaesthetics for simple pre operative procedures, terrified of post operative pain.
This time however I apparently grew emotions overnight, and for a weird few days there, felt what others must be feeling all the time. Pain wasn't just a physical sensation indicative of invasive surgeries that would dissipate with time and therefore irrelevant - there was "hurt," too, its emotional attachments - and it's awful. I'm autistic and the overload of it pushed me into the first migraine in 15 years.
This lasted only a week maximum, and I was back to regarding the scars and bruising as simply physical affects of the surgery and felt nothing toward them, but for that brief few days, I had insight into what we're "missing" if this is how normal people feel, and honestly, I'd think twice before wishing that on yourself, in the absence of alexithymia.
Its the effect that this "symptom" or "illness" has on peoples relationships that causes the distress. Of course indifference to pain or pre op anxiety is great but I can take Xanax a couple days before a surgery and feel the same way you do only its temporary. Then when its over I go back to having all the wonderful feelings of love, joy, happiness, excitement, and so forth. Your view is from a personal individual standpoint. I bet if you have any family close friends or significant other they worry. This affliction and this site deals with the effects this illness has on you and your relationships with others. Of course indifference to fear, pain, and anxiety of post and pre operative medical procedures would be great. But life does not revolve around surgery. Its the relationships and communities we build that humans benefit from physically mentally and emotionally. Hope this helps you get a different perspective :)
It certainly is interesting to get a different perspective, which I often have difficulties interpreting or imagining, so such a response is certainly valuable in that regard.
I digress in a few areas though - this site is about alexithymia, whether you regard it positively or negatively. It's not just about this difference being viewed as a problem. It's about all varying experiences of it. Also, perhaps I wasn't clear but I did intend to put this idea out there for consideration / food for thought as simply my own perspective on this specific situation, and did not intend to speak for all people, or for all situations, all the time.
I suppose I intended to illustrate that there can be a silver lining to this, in some situations such as the one I described, if one chooses to see them. Yes it's certainly very limiting and destructive in other areas, such as in relationships as you pointed out, but even there it can have its positives - such as an alexithymic would be much less likely to experience intense heartbreak at the dissolution of an intimate relationship, for example.
If others are dissatisfied with being this way and seek to change I'm certainly not one to dissuade them - helping oneself in problem areas is unquestionably valuable. I was just extending the idea that perhaps, in some situations, this isn't all bad.
And I have told my family (i.e, parents and siblings, I have no spouse or kids....) that if I ever have a terrible disease and the doctors say, "She won't make it through the night..." that everyone is to STAY AT HOME! NO ONE, and I mean NO ONE will watch me die, if that is the case.
Of course, my mom was all.... "But you NEED your FAM-I-LY around you...."
Nope. Not my family,.,,,, They didn't understand me as a child, made no effort to try. I don't want anyone there if that were to happen to me.
I got no problem being alone.
I agree with your opinion and kinda glad that someone else also doesn't see alexithymia as a problem. I can see its positive and negaitive effects and I am trying to focus on the good things. Feeling joy, excitement and love are probably wonderful things but not feeling pains, heartaches and sadness also very good things in my perspective. After reading a lot of opinions on this website, it is good to know that there are people who notice alexithymia have positive sides too.
I'm not sure, but I think I am quite grateful for this gift. I know I'll never have the emotional extremes or deep attachments that other people have, but I am a smiley, content individual, who works in an environment that saves lives and brings life into the world. I really like my life. :o)
Definitely agree. I am grateful for this gift as well. It's certainly lead to a deeply satisfying life, wonderful, rich inner experiences. Once family members get over their preconceived idea/belief that everyone must experience life as them, and iron fist of enforcing an Orwellian scheme due to profound insecurities... it's easier to connect, not in an emotional fashion, but in a highly logical, coherent manner.
I understand how I cannot give the emotional outputs a loved one may need, but I can listen deeply, give logical solutions, alternate perspectives, if they give me a concrete advice(I feel loved when you rub my feet, and give me backrubs, or to me love is ....), I'll happily oblige, as I understand those things are important to NTs. Most NTs are busy running around chasing after illusionary emotional highs, and divorcing when the "feeling stops," being stable has it's plus points.
I have shallow emotions, too; most of the time. There was another post a while back, about an event that brings up an emotional response in otherwise un-emotional people. I didn't reply to the post because it seemed too personal at the time. I feel the loss of a pet. If a pet dies, I feel upset. However, I don't feel any other emotions when my pet dies; just upset. CV, did something happen to you that brought out emotions for a few days, or did it seem to just happen? I'm like most of the other posters here, I don't care to become NT, but what happened to you is interesting.
^ Dave - for some reason, it seems it was a temporary response to surgery.
I've had much more invasive surgeries than this one and felt absolutely nothing. I refuse painkillers and feel nothing.
I'm unsure what it was this time, as it was a comparatively minimal surgery, but these emotional sensations seemed to just appear from left field. I had a vague theory that several doses of general anaesthesia over a reasonably short timeframe (three in one year) may have created a slightly altered condition in brain chemistry, that was enough to allow these sensations through. It's only a theory and I have nothing with which to back it up, just my suspicions about the damaging nature of anaesthesia on the brain. I actually asked the surgeon in the preop consultation if I could undergo the surgery with just local, and avoid the general anaesthesia completely.
That too was apparently an odd thing to request.
CV, I used to compete in bodybuilding (everybody told me my posing was horrible; no "feelings" in it). I was getting ready for a contest by taking more steroids then I usually did for contests (easy to get back then; any doctor could prescribe them). I did something dumb at work, and felt embarrassed by it. A secretary at work could see I was embarrassed, and said (I can still remember it - word for word), "My God, look at Dave! I've never seen him embarrassed before!". So a high steroid dosage brought out an emotion in me; at least I'm giving the steroids credit for it. I was thinking maybe it was some medication they gave you at the hospital that brought out emotions in you.
All my friends are sad or depressed or anxious or some mix of these, and I count myself very lucky to be shielded from that pile of misery, even if it means I'm not normal. And apparently people with Asperger's are more anxious than neurotypical people, so if I were normal with respect to emotions, I would be even more miserable than some of my friends.