Image credit: Pei-Ying Lin

JUNE 17, 2016 (alicehaddon.com)

Finding the words to express our feelings helps us make sense of ourselves.  And connect to others.

We know this because an unlucky few (10% of the population) suffer from a condition called Alexithymia – an inability to identify, distinguish or express their emotions.   And with this comes social detachment, alienation and decreased life satisfaction.  

But even without this difficulty, finding the right words to articulate our feelings can be difficult. Luckily Dr Tiffany Watt Smith has written the wonderful ‘Book of Human Emotions’ to help us. I’ve picked 10 feelings that I was delighted to find a word for.  See my other blog on this subject for more of my favourites.

1.  Ruinenlust:  A German word to describe feeling irresistibly drawn to crumbling buildings and abandoned places.  This is me all over, where I live has largely been dictated by this feeling.  I just didn’t know there was a word for it.

2.  Mututolypea: (Pronounced mah-tu-toh-leh-pee-a) an English word meaning an overbearing morning sorrow.  This word comes from the Roman Goddess of dawn ‘Mater Matuta’ and the Greek word for dejection ‘lype’. 

3.  Malu: This is one of those many experiences that we mistakenly think only we have or that signifies a lack of our own worth.  It’s an Indonesian word to describe that flustered feeling when we are in the presence of someone we hold in high esteem…when ‘the brain fogs over’ ‘sentences come out scrambled’ and ‘We may feel the overwhelming urge to run away’.

4.  Greng jai:  This is a Thai word meaning a reluctance to accept the offer of help from another because of the bother that it might cause them.

5.  Dolce Far Niente:  I love this one, it’s such an antidote to the dizzying imperatives to do more, achieve more, be more.  It’s an Italian expression translating as ‘the sweetness of doing nothing’ or the pleasure of doing nothing. 

6.  Cyberchondria:  This is the growing, but unfounded sense of concern about our symptoms that is fuelled by online ‘research’.

7.  Ringxiety: otherwise known as ‘phantom vibration syndrome ‘or playfully ‘fauxcellarm, this is the sense that your mobile phone is ringing when it’s not.

8.  Basorexia:  it’s not a romantic sounding word, but it means a sudden urge to kiss someone.  ‘Orexia’ stems from the Latin orexis meaning appetite.

9.  L’appel du Vide: From French, this literally translates as ‘the call to the void’ and describes that terrifying urge to leap of the cliff, the balcony, the platform.

10.  Abhiman:  (pronounced ab-ee-man) this is a Sanskrit word describing when the sorrow and shock from being hurt turns into a sense of self-pride or wounded dignity.

Our emotional lives can be bewilderingly complex, and although this complexity can’t be reduced to a few words, finding language means finding company.  And knowing that someone else, somewhere has felt it too, can be extremely comforting.

(Contributed by Suzanne Deakins, H.W., M.)

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