Why do i laugh when people get hurt
Why do we laugh inappropriately?
In Depth | Psychology
Why do we laugh inappropriately?
(Image credit: Thinkstock)
By David Robson23rd March 2015
We often find ourselves laughing at the strangest of moments. As psychologists are discovering, those helpless giggles might be one of our most important and profound behaviours, says David Robson.
My conversation with Sophie Scott is nearly over when she spins round in her chair to show me a video of a near-naked man cannonballing into a frozen swimming pool. After a minute of flexing his muscles rather dramatically, he makes the jump – only to smash and tumble across the unbroken ice. The water may have remained solid, but it doesn’t take long for his friends to crack up.
“They start laughing as soon as they see there isn’t blood and bones everywhere,” says Scott. “And they are SCREAMING with mirth; it’s absolutely helpless.” (If you want to see the video in question, you can find it here – though it does contain some swearing. )
Why do we get such an attack of the giggles – even when someone is in pain? And why is it so contagious? As a neuroscientist at University College London, Scott has spent the last few years trying to answer these questions – and at TED2015 in Vancouver last week, she explained why laughter is one of our most important, and misunderstood, behaviours.
Scott’s work has not always met the approval of her straight-laced colleagues. She likes to point out a handwritten note she once found stuck to the top of her printouts. “This pile of paper seems like rubbish (because of the nature of the material) and will be disposed of if not collected,” the note read. “Is this science?” In an ironic nod to the criticisms, Scott is now wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with the question, ready for a comedy gig she is hosting later in the evening.
She started out her career by examining the voice more generally, and the rich information it offers about our identity. “You can get a good shot at my gender, my age, my socioeconomic status, my geographical origins, my mood, my health, and even things to do with interactions,” she says.
One of her experiments involved scanning professional impersonator Duncan Wisbey to explore the way that he comes to adopt the subtle mannerisms of other people’s speech (see video, below). Surprisingly, she found that the brain activity seemed to reflect areas normally associated with bodily motion and visualisation – as he, almost literally, tried to work his way under the skin of a character. More generally, the work on impersonations has helped her pin down the regions involved in things like accent and articulation – important aspects of our vocal identity.
This video is no longer available
But it was a study in Namibia that made Scott begin to realise laughter is one of our richest vocal tics. Previous research had shown that we can all recognise six universal emotions across cultures – fear, anger, surprise, disgust, sadness, happiness – based on facial expressions. Scott, however, wanted to see if we encode more subtle information in our voice. So she asked indigenous Namibians and English people to listen to recordings of each other and rate the emotions represented – including the six accepted universals, as well as relief, triumph, or contentment.
Laughter was the most easily recognisable emotion across both groups. “Almost immediately, it started to look different from the other positive emotions,” she says.
The more she probed, the more she became fascinated by its intricacies. For instance, she soon found out that the vast majority of laughs have nothing to do with humour. “People genuinely think they are mostly laughing at other people’s jokes, but within a conversation, the person who laughs most at any one time is the person who is talking,” she says. Instead, she now sees laughter as a “social emotion” that brings us together and helps us to bond, whether or not something is actually funny. “When you laugh with people, you show them that you like them, you agree with them, or that you are in same group as them,” she says. “Laughter is an index of the strength of a relationship.”
That might explain why couples can roll about laughing at each other’s apparent wit – while onlookers fail to be infected. “You’ll hear someone say ‘he’s got a great sense of humour and I really fancy him because of it’. What you mean is ‘I fancy him and I show him I like him by laughing when I’m around him.’”
Indeed, mirth might be the primary way of maintaining relationships; she points to research, for instance, showing that couples who laugh with each other find it much easier to dissipate tension after a stressful event – and overall, they are likely to stay together for longer. Other recent studies have shown that people who laugh together at funny videos are also more likely to open up about personal information – paving more common ground between people.
Even the hilarity at the German man falling in the frozen swimming pool may have united the friends. “It’s interesting how quickly his friends start laughing – I think it’s to make him feel better,” says Scott. Along these lines, Robin Dunbar at the University of Oxford has found that laughter correlates with increased pain threshold, perhaps by encouraging the release of endorphins – chemicals that should also improve social bonding.
Scott is now interested in picking apart the differences between the “posed” giggles we might use to pepper our conversation – and the absolutely involuntary fits that can destroy a TV or radio broadcast, like this:
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For instance, she found that the less authentic tones are often more nasal – whereas our helpless, involuntary belly laughs never come through the nose.
Her fMRI scans, meanwhile, have looked at the way the brain responds to each kind of laughter. Both seem to tickle the brain’s mirror regions – the areas that tend to mimic other’s actions. These areas will light up whether I see you kicking a ball, or if I kick it myself, for instance – and it could be this neural mimicry that makes laughter so contagious. “You are 30 times more likely to laugh if you’re with someone else,” she says. An important difference, however, is that the less spontaneous, social laughs, tend to trigger greater activity in areas associated with “mentalising” and working out other people’s motives – perhaps because we want to understand why they are faking it.
You may think it is easy to tell the difference between involuntary and more artificial laughs, but Scott thinks the skill develops slowly across the lifespan and may not peak until our late 30s. For this reason, she has recently set up an experiment at London’s Science Museum, where her team will be asking visitors of different ages to judge the authenticity of different clips of people laughing and crying. After all, she points out that crying is an infant’s primary way of communicating, whereas laughter gains more importance the older we get.
Although we may tend to dislike certain people’s “fake” laughs, Scott thinks it probably says more about us, and the way we are responding to their social signals, than anything particularly irritating about them. She tells me about an acquaintance who had frequently irritated her with a persistent, fluting, laugh. “I always thought that she laughed so inappropriately, but when I paid more attention to it I saw that what was odd was simply the fact I didn’t join in. Her laughter was entirely normal.” If she hadn’t disliked the person already, she says, she would have laughed away and wouldn’t have even noticed.
Why not listen to some of Scott's clips and judge your own abilities to read people’s laughter:
Beside probing the bonds in our closest relationships, Scott’s curiosity has also taken her to comedy clubs. “What’s interesting about laughter in the situation of stand-up is that it’s still an interaction,” she says. In a way, the audience is having a conversation with the comedian. “I’m interested in what happens when the audience starts laughing and how it dies away – whether are you in sync with people around you or whether you don’t care, because the experience is just between you and the person on the stage.”
Paradoxically, she says, comedians often find it easier to work in large venues, perhaps because the contagious nature of laughter means that waves of mirth can catch on more easily when there are more people. She recalls a video of comedian Sean Lock reducing the audience to fits of hysterics simply by saying the word “cummerbund” occasionally, thanks to the infectious laughter spreading through the audience.
So far, she has tried to equip audience members watching comedians with sensors to track the outbreak of laughter, with limited success – the audience froze under the attention. But she hopes to continue the work with a high-profile comedian like Rob Delaney, who may be able to break through the awkwardness.
Scott occasionally takes up the microphone herself at comedy nights in London, and I ask her if her insights have fed her stage persona? She disagrees that science has offered her a fast track to comic genius, though as I discover at a charity gig the following evening, she is very funny.
As her “Is this science?” T-shirt reminds us, her more uptight colleagues might disapprove of her flippant attitude – but then, Scott understands just how powerful a tool that laughter can be to express ourselves, and get people to listen. “Laughter seems trivial, ephemeral, pointless,” she says. “But it is never neutral – there’s always a meaning to it.”
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Ever Wondered Why We Laugh When We See Someone Fall Down?
Why is it always the guy taking a hard and awkward spill that gets the biggest laugh?
Don't think so? Check this video below.
Hold your hand to your heart and say you din't laugh at even one of these videos? I bet you can't. We are not bad people or jerks but it's universal to laugh when someone falls down. And I put my research skills to good use and found out why!
1. Play frame.
Researchers at Stanford University who study humour sought to give a plausible explanation as to why it's so damn funny when someone takes a misstep and falls down. Apparently, it's this phenomenon known as 'Play Frame which puts a real-life event in a non-serious context and allows for an atypical psychological reaction.' Play frame can be the answer to then why most of us don't find it funny if someone falls from a 20 floor building and dies; as the falling person's distress doesn't allow the establishment of the non-serious context. But if a woman casually walking down stairs trips and falls hopelessly as she stumbles on her bum, the play frame gets established and we observers find it hilarious.
2. A way to feel good?
A renowned philosopher known as Thomas Hobbes gave another interesting theory as to why we might find pleasure in other people's pain. According to him, laughter stems from a place of superiority. "The burst of laughter directly following someone’s misfortune is an extension of feeling a 'sudden glory,'" he explains. Laughing at someone who is making a fool out of themselves in public could be an easy way to feel goof because in that moment you are belittling them.
3. We lack empathy with the victim.
Some theorists suggest that the more emotional and psychological distance from the victim, higher the chances of us laughing out loud. This is because we only find someone falling down funny is when we don't share any empathy with the victim. For instance, comedians or clowns falling down and hurting themselves will get us to laugh because that's their job, right? But when someone close to us like our family members fall down, it's never comical.
According to researchers, we're more likely to laugh at something that we don't see coming. The characteristic of incongruity when employed in understanding why we laugh when we see someone falling down can be seen as how we never see a fall coming. It's always unexpected and that's why our brains find it funny because it's so out of place.
5. To maintain society's rules.
Philosopher Henri Bergson came up with the theory that society trains people to laugh at careless and eccentric behavior as a means to setting firm rules in place. Laughing at people who have fallen down by being clumsy or not paying enough attention to their surroundings serves as a reminder to people that they shouldn't do anything that makes other people laugh at them. This probably also goes onto explain how we would rather be considered dumb than funny.
Above, are a few theories that might explain why we find it funny when we see someone falling down. UNTIL, we are the ones taking the fall.
I laugh when others hurt - Psychology and Psychiatry - 20.12.2017
anonymous, Woman, 17 years old
Hello, I'm a girl, I'm 17 years old. hold back laughter) when someone hurts, for example, falls, hits, a person gets hurt, many times this happened in relation to friends, relatives and even parents! Everyone is offended by me. But the fact is that I really don’t want to laugh at such moments, I really feel sorry for people, when they hurt, I don’t feel pleasure from someone else’s pain! But I can't help laughing, even just imagining their faces at the moment of their pain, it already becomes funny. But I'm not heartless, watching love melodramas, sad movies, videos about homeless animals or reading sad books, stories, I usually cry, although many they don’t even shed tears! this, it hurts and hurts me, but I don’t know what to do to get rid of this! It seems to me that this is not normal, it shouldn’t be like that! Please help me and how to get rid of it! Thank you very much in advance for your answer!
Marina Gladysheva answers
Hello. What happens to you is an absolutely normal reaction, there is nothing pathological in it. This phenomenon is called "psychological protection". A defense mechanism that is usually formed in childhood when faced with something unpleasant. There are two main signs of any psychic protection: it is a denial or distortion of reality and action on an unconscious level. That is, when you see that another person is in pain, the little girl inside you involuntarily tries on this pain on herself, gets very frightened and reacts with the opposite reaction: laughter or a smile. In general, the more “funny” you are, the more you actually feel the pain of another person. So, do not assume that something is wrong with you. Another thing is that laughter is not a very socially approved reaction in such cases, and you cannot explain to everyone that this is such an unconscious reaction. A person is hurt, bad, he is hurt by what he perceives as a mockery - of course, he will not show understanding for you. Therefore, it would be good to try to change the reaction. Agree with yourself that you are already an adult and know how to endure pain or ask for painkillers in critical situations. Take your childhood photo and talk to it in words through your mouth: “baby, I already know how to deal with this in other ways, you don’t need to protect me from the ghost of pain every time with psychic defenses.” Well, rituals also help in this case. Let's say children don't wear gold. Start wearing a gold ring or bracelet and touch it every time the defense mechanism kicks in, reminding yourself that you are an adult. Gradually, you will switch to a new way of responding, less noticeable to others, and the smile will not appear. If it’s not possible to “negotiate” with the inner girl in this way, she is still scared, then you can try to change the defense to another one. Any unpleasant procedures are easier to endure if you breathe slowly and deeply. Directly say to yourself: “I am very scared, I would not want to experience such pain” and take one or more deep breaths. This method is slightly worse than the first, because you continue to reinforce the childhood vulnerability in yourself, but it will also work for the first time. You will retrain to a less noticeable reaction, it will stop upsetting you.
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"Anger and joy are equally insipid": stories of people who do not understand their feelings
Alexithymia is not a psychiatric diagnosis , the so-called condition in which a person is not able to describe and understand his feelings and emotions. It leads not only to problems in interpersonal relationships, but can also cause psychosomatic illnesses. We talked to people living with alexithymia and learned from experts how to deal with it.
"It's like not being able to taste and smell"
Tatyana, 21 years old
I have schizoaffective disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and Asperger's syndrome - the first signs were in adolescence, diagnosed several years ago. As a child, for the first time, I realized that it was difficult for me to define emotions and feelings. I could cry and didn't realize why. Because of the pain or because I'm sad.
When I realize that I feel something, I try to pay attention to the sensations in my body. If heaviness appears in the chest, most likely, these are negative emotions - sadness, sadness, resentment. If warmth is felt in the body and limbs, then it must be positive.
For a long time I did not understand what love and sympathy are and whether I can experience them. I was able to distinguish them from other feelings when I met my boyfriend at the age of eighteen. This is a completely different level of feelings that I felt physically : my heart beat faster when I thought about him, I wanted to be near him, when talking it became hot, my palms sweated, there was a feeling of intoxication in my head. And somehow I realized that this is something new and that I can love someone.
Fear also manifests itself more physically: lack of air, headache, severe tinnitus, spasm in the intestines, muscle stiffness, coldness in the body, trembling. It looks like the beginning of a cold - I would say so that it was more understandable.
The most difficult thing for me is to tell my relatives how I feel if they ask me about it or wait in a conversation for me to say something about emotions. I just feel like I can't find the words for this, it's like there aren't any, and I don't know what to say. At such moments, people think that I do not feel anything, and my silence confuses them.
Sometimes relatives get angry - apparently, they are waiting for an emotional response in the course of a conversation, and I often don’t know what to do, what emotion to show, squeeze out of myself. But I think that they are not angry on purpose. Once I talked with my mother about further education, I explained where and for whom I want to study, to which she replied that I was speaking without interest and emotions, as if I didn’t care.
You seem to be deprived of the opportunity to fully experience emotions. It’s like they don’t exist, and you don’t know what they are, because anger and joy feel equally insipid. For me, it's like living with a constant runny nose and not feeling the taste and smell.
I didn't tell my parents about alexithymia and Asperger's syndrome. They are of the old school, all people with autism for them are those who cannot speak and are kept in boarding schools. Also, we are not very close, and I don’t even know how to gently talk about my states. I tried to explain my mental disorder to my mother, but for her it’s “you can’t control yourself”, so all my stories and articles shown on this topic are useless. I have a physical disability - my parents treat me the way they treat people with disabilities in Russia: they consider me weak and unable to work. They are aware that I am mentally ill, but if you also tell them about problems with emotions and Asperger's syndrome, they will treat me with even more pity and think that I am not like normal children, and that this is their punishment from God. But my young man is aware of my problems, and after he found out about them, we began to understand each other better.
I am in therapy and it is very difficult for me to talk about how I feel about my emotions. But the more time passes, the more I learn to describe my emotions in images. For example, sadness is a dark and cloudy cloud . It's a strange experience, but I like it.
"I was considered a callous and unsociable person"
White, 35 years old
I have Bipolar 2 disorder. I am currently in remission and continue medication. I have long felt that it is difficult for me to describe emotions and feelings, but for the first time I realized this about ten years ago. Then we often played word games in the company, and several times I got questions of the format “what do you feel about ... (a person, phenomenon, event, and so on)?” Such questions plunged me into a stupor, and at the same time I noticed that other people had no problems with answers. I tried to understand how they find words so quickly, for a while I even suspected that they were making them up on the go. Later, I accidentally stumbled upon an article on alexithymia on the Internet and recognized the familiar symptoms.
In my case, alexithymia does not affect creativity and professional tasks: I love fiction based on the problems of human relationships, sometimes I write prose, poetry, songs myself. Feelings are easier to formulate on behalf of a lyrical hero, besides, this is verbalization training.
But in my personal life and communication with friends, alexithymia leads to problems: relatives often noticed that I had difficulties with expressing emotions - before, they were mostly angry and took the position “why can’t I immediately say normal.” For a long time I was considered a callous and unsociable person, because I did not understand how to express various kinds of empathy. Several times I quarreled with my girlfriend almost to the point of breaking up, because my reaction was “wrong”: it did not correspond to the situation and incorrectly displayed my own emotions.
After I started to warn about my problem, there were fewer conflicts, we started talking more about feelings with loved ones.
I also have trouble making decisions because of the inability to understand what feeling guides the opinion, but this is rather good: you have to learn to look at things from a rational position, fixing the pros and cons, instead of succumbing to emotions.
“My feelings are a mystery to myself”
Anton, 30 years old
Until recently, I did not know about such a problem as alexithymia, but I began to notice that I did not understand my emotions and feelings in my youth. I could not understand how to react to the actions of classmates and friends - when to laugh, get angry and upset. I still can't tell a joke from an insult if it's not obvious. For example, I can be offended to tears if they say “fool” to me in a friendly way, and laugh when I hear a mate addressed to me.
Trying to socialize, I repeated after other people, but it looked awkward, I did not catch the norms. I was bullied at school, but I didn’t know how to react: I was silent on insults, and for a slight irony I could get into a fight, then I was ashamed and apologized.
When I started working, I could not settle down in the team, because I did not read other people's attitude towards me and, accordingly, did not know how I should treat people. Many said that I was being arrogant, which surprised and upset me, because I was just silent all the time. My unsociableness leads to the fact that, despite high professional performance, career growth and a leadership position do not shine for me. In the humanitarian field in which I work, relationships with people, the ability to understand and read the emotions of others, are extremely important, especially if you want to manage a team.
Relations with friends and close people do not develop for the same reason - mutual misunderstanding, which even strong romantic or friendly affection could not overcome. I felt the difference in the direction of these attachments only by the presence of sexual desire, which manifests itself in a standard human way. However, his absence did not stop me from rash acts: I confessed my romantic love to my girlfriends and even friends, although I did not think about sexual relations with them, I was simply drawn to them and in their presence it became physically warm and comfortable. People, to put it mildly, were surprised in response to my proposal to meet, and the guys expressed dislike. Relations with many wonderful people were ruined once and for all, even an apology did not help restore friendship.
And after the breakup, I didn't understand what I was feeling - sometimes I was sad, sometimes I was happy, and it drove me crazy. When the ex-girlfriend moved out from me, my breath often took hold in an empty apartment, my pulse quickened, especially when I recalled our life. The reasons are not clear, because there is nothing to be offended and angry at, because we parted on my initiative. And somehow a friend posted a photo from the party, and everything boiled inside me, my breath also caught (it seems that this is my standard reaction to anything), but I did not understand what was happening inside me. I called him and asked why he went there, which sounded very stupid - he did not understand this question, and I no longer understood why I was asking it, and even in a breaking voice. My friends know that I am not a party lover in principle, and I know this about myself, so I did not hold any claims in my mind, but some emotions were overwhelmed, judging by the physical manifestations. I would call them meaningless, phantom.
Trying to explain to people that I have problems with emotions does not help: even those closest to me are sure that this is a whim and I just don't want to control myself and "try to understand others."
When I first went to a psychiatrist, he said that problems with emotions are a neurosis. I was treated with various drugs for a long time, but the situation did not get better, until now my feelings are a mystery to myself. Psychotherapy is weak, but it helps: the doctor taught to determine how feelings differ from emotions, but it is still difficult to recognize them. I learned that emotion is a small, short-term acute sensation, like a flash, lightning, you don’t have time to think about anything. And a feeling is a long-term state accompanied by a bunch of thoughts. For example, I hit a chair and screamed, my hands clenched, instinctively hit the chair in response - it means that the emotion of anger arose. But I had a colleague at a former job who set me up, and if we went on the same shift, then I felt muscle tension, heart palpitations and often thought about how he could be such a lousy person.
The hardest thing for me is to tell the doctors what I'm experiencing: no matter what words I choose, everything seems like a lie or a fantasy. This applies to both mental and physical sensations. As soon as I go into the office of a gastroenterologist or a therapist and start complaining, I listen to myself more carefully and start thinking that I dreamed the sensations. It’s the same with a psychotherapist and a psychiatrist: it seems that I’m actually a healthy dreamer, because I can’t convey exactly how I feel, and specialists are not telepaths and cannot understand.
"I can't put my feelings into human language"
Kristina, 28 years old
I went to see a psychologist with borderline and depression issues, one day he asked me to describe myself and I felt confused because I didn't know Who am I. I told him that I consist of layers: on the outside there is a polite shell, under it is an evil gopnik, and under it is a kind soul that saves everyone, and it is she who is protected by the gopnik. Then again something dark that I do not understand and am afraid to analyze, and so on ad infinitum. Later, these layers emerged into some subpersonalities, and their emotions were perceived as alien, which I cannot understand or control. I gave them names, and they speak in my head like separate parts of me: kind, aggressive, overly emotional, my ordinary.
I can describe my feelings with the help of a table of feelings, in psychotherapy pairs (I studied as a doctor) we were offered to use it to tell others about our feelings. But sometimes I experience things that are not in this table or there is no name for these feelings.
I have developed empathy, I easily understand others, but inside of me is either a mixture [of feelings], or nothing at all. This does not affect my hobby: I draw the necessary emotions for my characters, sometimes the drawing helps me figure out what I feel, or others begin to understand it - sometimes they are horrified. Due to alexithymia, I do not communicate with people much, because I cannot respond with the emotional reactions they need.
For example, if a person raised their voice at me, I may cry, even if I just feel like I'm being pressured, or I get too angry and yell. There is no average response to pressure. If they regret it, I roar.
The most difficult thing is to tell those who expect warmth from me that I experience this warmth, but I don’t show it, because I don’t know how. This feeling is blurred, it is impossible to concretize it in words. Also, I can’t tell people what specifically offended me, because words get stuck or I can’t put feelings into human language. It's hard to be locked up and not understand how I really feel . I ignore my feelings more often than I track.
Alexithymia often leads to psychosomatic manifestations: when I am nervous, the temperature rises to 37–37.5 degrees, pains in the abdomen, heart, head, teeth ache, allergies begin (I itch, I get covered with a rash), breathing problems (I can’t do breath or I don’t feel oxygen in the air), anything can hurt at all, regardless of the absence of physical pathology.
Why does alexithymia occur and how to deal with it?
Alexithymia is most characteristic of autism spectrum disorders, but can accompany any mental disorder (depression, personality disorders, etc.). It is associated with the mechanism of formation and maintenance of a psychosomatic symptom, but not the only reason for its occurrence. Clients with alexithymia, as a rule, first of all turn to somatic doctors with physical discomfort.
According to the results of some studies, difficulties with the expression of emotions are more common in men than in women, alexithymia is practically not studied in people of a different gender identity. However, the quality of most research on alexithymia is quite low.
The exact causes of this condition have not yet been identified. There is evidence that mirror neurons are involved in the occurrence of alexithymia, structures such as the amygdala, insula and cerebellum are involved. Violation of dopaminergic metabolism in these structures is associated with manifestations of alexithymia.
Nevertheless, the environment plays a significant role in the development of difficulties with understanding one's emotions: whether the child sees the expression of emotions, hears their names, whether they tell him what emotions are, how they manifest themselves.
Alexithymia can lead to difficulties in building or maintaining interpersonal relationships - in these cases, I would recommend contacting a specialist. If you notice that it is difficult for you to interact with people, there is a feeling that no one understands your goals, motives, and it is often difficult for you to understand people when they talk about their emotions, you can independently study materials about emotions, gradually learn to notice them from yourself and other people, observe them and express.
By itself, this problem does not require medical treatment. A psychotherapist works with alexithymia at the beginning of any psychotherapy, since it is important for a specialist to understand how the client feels in problem situations.
Relatives can help a person by talking about their emotions and thereby showing the experience of living them, and also by asking about the person's experiences, thereby drawing his attention to the emotional sphere.
Alexithymia is indeed common among my clients and makes interaction in the first meetings much more difficult. At the beginning of the work, the specialist collects information about what is happening with the client (about his behavior, thinking, emotions), of course, alexithymia hinders this process. In such cases, we dedicate several meetings to the client to find out what emotions are, how they manifest themselves, how they feel, learn to notice them in themselves, name them, observe them. The most difficult for me case of alexithymia in a client required eight meetings of work on the identification, observation, description and expression of emotions.
How does alexithymia affect physical health?
Alexithymia can lead to the occurrence of psychosomatic symptoms - pain, squeezing, bursting, tingling, and others, but at the same time, according to tests and studies, doctors do not find anything.
There is evidence that patients with higher levels of alexithymia suffering from bronchial asthma require longer hospital stays. In patients with primary arterial hypertension, with the severity of alexithymia, higher blood pressure numbers are noted, and hypertension may be resistant to drug therapy. There is a relationship between the severity of alexithymia and the blood levels of cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone and norepinephrine. In patients who have difficulty with the perception of emotions, there is a decrease in immunity . Higher levels of alexithymia in studies have been shown by patients with medically unexplained symptoms.
People suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, Parkinson's disease, chronic pain syndrome, skin diseases, bronchial asthma, coronary heart disease, gastric and/or duodenal ulcer, ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease also showed a higher level of alexithymia than in the rest of the population.