According to research, children who grew up with various forms of maltreatment are likely to have this in adulthood:
Alexithymia (also known as emotional blindness) is a condition characterized by difficulty in identifying and describing emotions. It is now recognized as a personality trait rather than a psychosomatic disorder, and it is believed to be relatively stable over time.
Alexithymia has been associated with various impairments, including difficulties in emotional processing, identifying facial expressions, and understanding and relating to the emotions of others. It is also considered a risk factor for psychopathologies such as affective disorders, self-injury, personality disorders, and eating disorders.
Individuals with alexithymia often experience challenges in their interpersonal relationships, exhibiting limited socioaffective skills, decreased empathy, and a tendency to avoid close social connections.
Frankly, this does sound like a common struggle for childhood abuse survivors. It also sounds a lot like some of the symptoms of being neurodivergent. So, I guess the question is, does a history of childhood maltreatment equal an increase in the likelihood of being neurodivergent? Or does this personality trait simply have a lot in common with other types of neurodivergent traits yet is caused by surviving early trauma?
I don’t know, but for me, this is a good question. I have only begun recently to question whether I am neurodivergent based on my inability to identify my own emotions, the disconnect between my emotional state and my outward expressions, and my struggles with social skills and anxiety. Is it a case of having been undiagnosed as neurodivergent for all these years, or are these unresolved remnants of my abuse? Do the stories of me as a small child on an amusement park ride with a blank expression on my face and relatives trying to figure out if I was scared, having fun, or bored, mean I was born this way, or had trauma already started it’s work on my personality?
Does it even matter? Isn’t the reality the same either way? That we all should be more aware that there are people who simply cannot be social in the same way as others, or who experience and express emotions differently than others.
And for those of us who do struggle in different ways with emotional identification and expression, we aren’t alone in that.