How often have you heard a girl complaining that her boyfriend doesn't open up to her? "He won't share any of his deepest thoughts with me!" or "He just seems so distant!" or "My feelings and so forth."
We bet he never considers those vague feelings of hurt that she can't quite verbalize but it's all his fault anyway.
Believe it or not, two out of those three complaints may be explained by an interesting little condition called alexithymia. Alexithymia is the term for not fully understanding and being able to express one's emotions. Everyone on Earth has some level of alexithymia, but it can become drastic when people experience higher levels of it. Eight to 10 percent of people suffer from high levels of alexithymia, which is enough to piss their girlfriends off on a day-to-day basis. In case you haven't guessed, this condition is more common in men than in women. Alexithymia has reared its unloving head in pop culture many times, in almost every screenplay-by-numbers romantic comedy where "Men and Women are Different!" is the only theme of the entire movie.
"Wow, how weird is it that we're polar opposites, yet have been brought
together in our tastes for wacky hats? Let's have sex!"
Along with being unable to get mushy with their girlfriends, people with alexithymia also tend to have less of an imagination. Sufferers of this condition usually have very logical and realistic dreams, such as walking to the store or eating a bowl of cereal. Not, like, a sexy bowl or a falling-off-a-cliff bowl or a bowl that's in its underwear in front of the whole class -- just a bowl.
This in no way symbolizes your empty, lonely life. It's literally just a bowl.
Now that your girlfriend has no doubt diagnosed you with alexithymia, you're probably wondering what the treatment is. The answer? Hugging. That's right. The medically prescribed treatment for alexithymia is a good old-fashioned hug-off. In a recent experiment, two researchers studied couples that were suffering from the effects of alexithymia. They discovered that in relationships where the couple shared affectionate communication, such as hugging, touching or even taking certain positive postures during communication, there was a significant positive impact on the condition. The more hugging the couples did, the less of an impact the condition had on them. In case you're wondering, yes, until videos of kittens eating lollipops becomes a recognized form of treatment, this is officially the most adorable cure in the history of medicine.
There's your experimental therapy for the day. You owe us $200.
Everyone has certain sounds that annoy them. Whether it's the sound of humming, knuckle cracking or Alan Alda's voice, there are just certain noises that drive us crazy. But what happens when people take their hatred a little too far? Misophonia happens, that's what.
"This'll teach you to breathe!"
Misophonia is a condition where the sufferer is enraged by normal, generally inoffensive sounds. These sounds can come from people eating, breathing, coughing or making any other everyday noise. While most people will get annoyed at certain sounds being repeated, people with misophonia will hulk the fuck out the instant they become aware that their hated sound is occurring. Cases have been reported of people with misophonia literally punching holes in walls, chucking objects across rooms and becoming eye-stabbingly enraged at family dinners simply because they heard someone chewing (really should have expected some chewing at dinner, though, Crazy Person).
"Are you chewing food? At my dinner table? YOU FUCKING MONSTER, I WILL END YOU!"
Interestingly, the hatred is even more severe when the forbidden sound is coming from someone who is emotionally connected to the sufferer, like a family member or close friend, which makes Thanksgiving with a misophonia sufferer sound like just the worst torture ever.
"I told Granddad to take Uncle Ray outside, because I hate that grunting
sound they make when they start punching each other."
Understandably, people with misophonia suffer many social problems as a result of the condition. They have trouble dating, as they tend to clobber (hopefully) inanimate objects during meal times. Many misophoniacs are forced to eat by themselves in a closed off environment, as the rage is not activated when the sufferer himself is producing the sounds.
"My chewing is adorable, like puppies eating marshmallows."
Sufferers can try sensitivity training or Anxiolytics to quell the sudden waves of rage. Or failing that, rearrange your life such that you never hear that sound again. Ban gum from your house? Blend all of your meals so you drink them instead of eating them? We're just spit-balling here.
Everyone has that guy in his or her office that refuses to cooperate. He considers it his goal in life to undermine and reject authority in the most loud and obnoxious way possible. This is the douche that questions every request, back talks every order and looks for loopholes in the goddamn office donuts.
"There's nothing in the employee handbook that says I can't wear this."
Unfortunately for you and your friends making fun of him, it may not be his fault. This stubborn asshole may have a medical condition causing him to be a stubborn asshole. Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), or "stubborn asshole disorder," is basically the medical term for sticking it to the man. It is described by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as "an ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior toward authority figures which goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior."
"WAHHH, I'm not gonna do a presentation, and you can't make me!"
ODD affects around 20 percent of children. Again, we're not just talking about a common rejection of authority -- to qualify, the person must continuously cause hell for authority for at least six months. If left untreated, 52 percent of ODD sufferers have been shown to progress into some form of conduct disorder.
ODD doesn't only apply to bratty children however. It also applies to bratty adults. In his autobiography, My Life Without Bars, troubled baseball player and manager Pete Rose attributed his gambling problems to ODD. After accusations that he gambled against the team he was managing, he claimed that his addiction to betting on baseball games was not his own fault, but a result of his condition, which caused him to rebel against the system and bet against his own team.
"You guys didn't fault Lou Gehrig for his disease. We're basically the same, he and I."
So let's say your child is diagnosed with ODD. As a fairly stressed ODD-parent, what do you do? You blast that little fucker with every type of therapy under the sun, that's what. Psychotherapy, family therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy and various types of social skills training have all been shown to decrease the intense dickery your child is so keen on. If all else fails, whack him with some medication too, especially if his ODD is coupled with another disorder, such as ADD. If you don't, he's just going to grow up and end up sharing cubicle space with us and questioning why people can take cigarette breaks but he can't just go outside and fuck around for a while -- and we really don't need any more guys like that around the office.
We've already got that DAMN PEN TAPPER. YEAH, YOU, ASSHOLE.
You can (and should) follow Andrew Martin on Twitter.
For more bizarre issues with your brain, check out 5 Mental Disorders That Only Occur in One Place on Earth and 5 Mental Disorders That Can Totally Get You Laid.
And stop by LinkSTORM to see which columnist is the pen tapper.
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