Saturday, April 1, 2017

Personality Quirks: A is for Alexithymia

This is no April Fool’s. Happy Saturday. And happy first day of the April A-Z Blog Challenge.

Are you a writer looking for some interesting personality traits and quirks to create characters? Or maybe you’re a logophile, someone who loves words, and wants to collect more of them. Either way, you’ve come to the right place. Reminder: gender neutral pronouns used.

Alexithymia is a condition of someone not understanding or being able to express shis emotions.

Dexter (from the TV series). Hannibal Lecter. The cold fish. The absent mother. The distant partner. We’ve all met one of them at some time or another. The person who holds shimself in.

From Wikipedia, we find this etymology:
The term alexithymia was coined by psychotherapist Peter Sifneos in 1973. The word comes from Greek α (a, "no"), λέξις (léxis, "word"), and θυμός (thymos, "emotions", but understood by Sifneos as having the meaning "mood"), literally meaning "no words for mood".

At its mildest, an alexithymic could be the removed and distant parent or spouse your MC can never connect with. Carried to an extreme, the alexithymic personality might be a psychopath or sociopath, someone with no conscience who cannot empathize with others and who has extreme antisocial behaviors.

Your alexithymic character:
Your protag, adopted at age three, finds it difficult to connect with her adoptive family despite all their loving efforts. She searches for her birth parents as a young adult and looks forward to a reunion with her mother. Her mother is a sociopathic liar and scam artist who uses the daughter’s interest against her. The MC wonders if her inability to connect to her adoptive family is an inherited trait.

Or, a young mother finds herself unable to bond with her newborn. Is it post-partum depression, exhaustion, or is something else at work? A normally reserved and contained person, she wonders if she is capable of the selfless love the child demands. Does her restrained relationship with her husband signal a bigger problem or is she just being fanciful?

I hope you’ll come back tomorrow, brought to you by the letter B!

If you enjoyed this post, please share the link on Twitter, Facebook or other social media you frequent:
Alexithymia is a real thing and writers can use it for character development from @RomanceRighter


  1. That is a great word. I may have to write some flash fiction around it.

    ~Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  2. Thanks so much, Patricia! I have 25 more! lol Give me a link if you do write flash fiction for alexithymia. I would be very interested in that.

  3. That's a really cool one. It's great to have an actual word for it. I look forward to seeing what else you share this month.

    1. I had the most fun, Heather, tracking down 26 personality quirks. Of course, I ended up with dozens more than I need so picking and choosing was the hardest part. I hope you'll be back. Please leave a link so I can read your A-Z challenge posts!