Journaling emotions vs Alexithymia

Hey @alexwalkerjones :wave:
Not sure if you’d be the best person to ask this to, but pinging you since you’re the only one I’ve interacted with, here :joy:

My question needs some context first, as follows.

Source one (you can take it as a TL;DR):

Alexithymia is a broad term to describe problems with feeling emotions . In fact, this Greek term used in Freudian psychodynamic theories loosely translates to “no words for emotion.”

Source two:

Alexithymia is a personality trait characterized by the inability to identify and describe emotions experienced by oneself.
High levels of alexithymia occur in approximately 10% of the population and can occur with a number of psychiatric conditions as well as any neurodevelopmental disorder.
Typical deficiencies may include problems identifying, processing, describing, and working with one’s own feelings, often marked by a lack of understanding of the feelings of others; difficulty distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal; confusion of physical sensations often associated with emotions; few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination; and concrete, realistic,
logical thinking, often to the exclusion of emotional responses to problems.

And I complement that with my own experience, leading to the question: I’ve been mostly unclear on what to “answer” for the bubbles quiz, so I end up putting mostly the same answers. Usually:

  1. (Biggest bubble) indifferent — although that’s not quite accurate because indifference is an emotional state/reaction, while with Alexithymia it feels just nothing. Just absence of emotions. It’s not like that “emptiness” some describe while depressive, because that would be an emotional state. It’s just nothing. There’s nothing there, most the time;
  1. my body feels a bit tired or a bit sworn, but I’m just that’s just due to some mussels in my back that a weaker than they should;
  2. sometime a bit of anxiety. I recognize this one because I can read its body symptoms — like: I notice my heart rate increase; I feel a temperature difference (colder) spreading from my heart into several directions then some parts of the body responds to it — like hands get colder and sweaty; I feel like a knot in the stomach; etc.

My point and question is: not having accurate answers to the bubbles quiz, does that impacts the study? If so, do you think we could replace — or at least complement — that quiz with one that focus on physical symptoms?


Wow! It’s great to learn something new @rwillians, so thank you for this. It is a really fascinating question you raise.

Generally speaking, one of the reason sofi is so unique, is that sofi is that in order to analyse and generate your results with the plants, we only compare your data to you.

So, in effect, how we respond in comparison to others, and the individual differences between us, aren’t an interference at all. Instead (taking the answers you used above, for example), sofi would see that you generally only keep the bubbles for indifference, tired, and anxious, but perhaps after taking valerian or another plant, the bubble for anxiety is reduced or disappears. This is what sofi would base her analysis on.

To answer your question, although it narrows the range of data points that sofi receive overall, it should not impact our study - nor your results - is any critical way.

We do have an interesting article (if I say so myself) on the sofi blog called “Emotion: a mind, body, or cultural phenomenon?,” that touches upon some of the challenges of understanding emotions - and how they can exist physiologically, mentally, or both to varying degrees.

I would be curious to see if some kind of hybrid bubbles journal could work, where emotions could perhaps be selected either by name (sadness, anxiety, confidence), or by physical symptom.

Also tagging @Nicki, our in-house psychologist, in case she has any thoughts to add!


Hi @rwillians , thanks for sharing your experience of bubbling.

As @alexwalkerjones says, Sofi looks to understand your experience of sleep in relation to your journalling and other data. It will only use your data, not anyone else’s. So if you find it trickier to do the bubbling, as identifying and describing emotions is more challenging, then Sofi would see that. If, as you say, there is little difference in the emotions you select from one journalling episode to the next, then Sofi may find it more difficult to see how emotions recorded in the journalling are linked to your sleep data but over time subtle differences will still be picked up. So please be reassured by that.
Sofi will also easily be able to understand if and how spraying is linked to your sleep regardless of the journalling data.

One thing to add is that journalling and expressive writing can help people detect their emotions and journalling is suggested as a way for people with alexithymia to broaden their experience of detecting emotions. I accept that it is tricky and perhaps frustrating not having the full option of emotions in the bubbles to select from, but over time this may become broader. You might also like to think about whether a particular colour of a bubble resonates with the experience (and strength of experience) you are having in that moment. That may help make the journalling activity easier to complete.

Alexithymia is a complex condition and emotional awareness is part of that.
This review may be of interest which concludes that alexithymia and emotional awareness are distinct but related parts of the challenges of identifying and describing emotions.,lower%20level%20of%20emotional%20awareness.

Thanks again for sharing your experience.



Thanks @alexwalkerjones, for the reply and sharing that post; and thanks @Nicki, for those information and the article. I’ll definitely read through those resources soon :slight_smile:

I just want to clarify a piece of information where I was incorrect/imprecise there:

  • To my knowledge, I’m not diagnosed with Alexithymia — I’m only aware of diagnoses that affect my civil rights and/or pose risks to my health. Other ones, my medical team holds that information between themselves until requested;
  • While I do relate with Alexithymia’s symptoms that I’ve learned so far, in my understanding they could be justified by an almost constante hyper-regulation of my emotional regulation cognitive functioning, coming from my ASD — unless my ADHD is out of control, then it’s a mess, and I can become more sensible & able to perceive other emotions in those situations (long story and full of nuances);
  • AFAIK that might not necessarily mean I have Alexithymia. But, given the symptoms I have & wanted to emphasize are well described by Alexithymia, then I used it as an example because I found that easier to explain.

Again, for your time and the resources :slight_smile:


I love discussions like this as it’s things I never think about yet so interesting to read! As always all questions answered and explained by the great Sofi Team!