Lack of emotions

I browse through the BBC on a regular basis.  I learned that Yahoo and MSN mostly post fluff news.  If I want to know what is going on the world I check out the BBC.  They posted an article that I read with interest.

I’m curious how many of those that never felt emotion were interviewed to see if they were abused as a child?  Yup, followed a link to Wise Geek describing alexithymia.  They confirm that many with alexithymia are survivors of childhood abuse.

I’ve experienced this only my counselor called it dissociation at a severe level.  This is where my photography opened up my world of emotion.  It gave me a voice.  I took hundreds of pictures of gray.


graydesat1 Grayflatline grayrailing graynochange grayground2This was my emotional world.  Gray with few variations.  Many sessions in counseling were spent connecting my emotions to my conscious understanding of the world of words.  It was painful.  Slow arduous work.  While I was in counseling, I would cry more in one week then I did in 10 years before counseling.  I’ve added the richness and depth of emotion to my life.  I added color.

RM3_9559 RM3_9604RM3_7648_RM26106FireI could feel no sorrow, no suffering, no anger, no sadness however, I also forfeited all happiness, all excitement, all connection, all joy.  I am thankful for a counselor that courageously navigated me into a life with feelings that I felt all the time instead of only occasionally.  Emotions add depth and richness that logic can’t comprehend.

5 thoughts on “Lack of emotions

  1. Working on this right now in counseling. I had no idea I was so disconnected from myself because my empathy was so strong, always feeling others emotions and trying to make them happy . starting to get some basic awareness, but if I try too hard I go numb or panic. So hard to believe my feelings matter, that I matter, that I’m allowed to have feelings so they’ve been blocked out for over 30 years. I’m interested how photography helped you get this back? Was it the mindfulness of it allowing you to be in the moment or is there more to it?

    • I realized that I messed answering this. Photography worked in two ways. It wasn’t part of my past so I could work with it fresh and no triggers tied to it. Also the photographing itself requires different parts of the brain. There is the intellectual aspect such as shutter speed, lighting, aperture, and many other technical parts of photography. Then there is the emotional side of why does this arrangement in the lens speak to me. How do the colors flow together to make it appear beautiful to me. I do believe that mindfulness is a significant part, but just the beginning of the benefits. Try it with any camera, including a phone camera.

  2. I thought no-one else dealt with this, or at least believed they were very few. I have a very uncanny way of separating from my emotions. It’s like I have no control over it and especially when a normal “fight-or-flight” response is necessary, I go completely numb. No tears. No fear. No anger. Nothing. Though, at the same time, if I self-analyze I recognize where those emotions are lying, though buried at the time. It’s really hard to verbalize. I can describe how something makes me feel, deep down, even though I don’t “feel” it at the time. I’ve used this example once before, but it puts a picture to my struggle… 20 years ago I was in a very bad car accident. I was driving a little Toyota hatch-back, and was t-boned by a 71 mustang, doing more than 60 mph at impact. The impact threw my car approx. 50 feet, into an adjacent field. My friend, who was sitting next to me, took the brunt of the impact on her side of the car, and as a result had to be heart-flighted to a neighboring town for her injuries. My car was folded in half, glass and blood everywhere. An off-duty EMT was driving down the hill, and saw the accident. He was at the scene doing field vitals, within a minute or two. He checked my friend, first, then came to me. Field vitals take 30 seconds…pulse, respirations, blood-pressure… Within 30 seconds, he was checking me. I was fully conscious. When he told me what my pulse was, I was shocked. I was at a resting pulse of 60 bpm… Major impact… resting, normal pulse. Nothing about me, indicated that I had just been through a major accident. Nothing said anything about my friend, who was unconscious, sitting next to me.

    Later, after an abusive relationship, I went to see a counselor.. She wanted to use EMDR, as a way to help. Part of this process is describing how you feel. I felt nothing. She commented about how strong my dissociation is. It’s nice to know I don’t have to be stuck like this, though I know no other way of being. I consciously started shutting down my emotions when I was 7. I’m now 49, with less control over the process (if any at all) than I had, then. Now, it just happens. I “feel” for a split of a miniscule part of a second, then…nothing.

    Your photos really are beautiful, and recognizing the emotional changes in them, is beautiful in itself 🙂

    • I only feel fear or anxiety, when the situation is consistent and on-going. If it’s a situation that requires me to react quickly, due to fear or what-have-you…I feel nothing…I go numb. It’s so hard to describe. Thanks for putting up with me 🙂

      • I am glad to have you. I am thankful that what I am writing lets you know that you are not alone. My counselors worked hard for me to feel all my emotions. My first counselor helped me understand that I worked through troubles on reflexive reaction rather than feeling and working out what would be best for me. Actually he called it knee jerk. He taught me than when I felt an emotion hang on to it and focus on it. Basically tell my self that is all right to feel that emotion whatever it is. My second counselor told me to sit with my emotions. This did not mean for me to allow emotions to run my life. It is more like allowing emotions to become my friend. The emotions would tell me what was needed and my head would help work out the logistics to make things happen. Took practice but it is worth the effort.
        Thank you for the compliment on the pictures.

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