I'm looking for a specific latin or greek word that describes something like the inability to empathize with emotions that are not in line with one's current affective state. It could probably be described as a temporary or permanent deficit in affective perspective-taking that occurs when a person feels that their current emotional state is the only possible state, and that it is permanent.

For example, when someone is experiencing negative affect for some reason and then proceeds to act as if their day, or even life, is ruined, and that this negative affective state is the new norm. Or when someone is experiencing positive affect for some reason and then naively believes that "it will always be like this," perhaps getting very distraught when the positive feelings eventually go away but at the same time not being able to see this pattern from the outside or take long-term steps to prevent this type of roller coaster dynamic from continuing to manifest.

I have consulted various psychology resources and literature online but have not been able to, again, find the term which accurately captures this concept. I've found the following terms, "emotional myopia", "emotional reasoning", "anosognosia", "presentism", "presentist bias", and "egocentrism", which I feel are fairly close. But, apart from "emotional myopia" and perhaps "affective presentism", I feel the concepts I have found are either too general (egocentrism, emotional reasoning) or incorrect (alexithymia, affective agnosia).

The specific term I have previously seen is a single greek or latin word and is very specific, like the term "anosognosia". As a caveat, it might be worth saying that the description and example of the phenomena above might be slightly, but not vastly, out of sync with the term I am looking for.


2 Answers 2


This sounds like hot-cold empathy gap:

For example, when one is angry, it is difficult to understand what it is like for one to be calm, and vice versa; when one is blindly in love with someone, it is difficult to understand what it is like for one not to be, (or to imagine the possibility of not being blindly in love in the future).

This is a type of intrapersonal (self-oriented) affective empathy gap:

One's ability to perspective-take may be limited by one's current emotional state. ... People may either fail to accurately predict one's own preferences and decisions (intrapersonal empathy gaps), or to consider how others’ preferences might differ from one's own (interpersonal empathy gaps).


You may be talking about the term from Greek, Alexithymia.

Suffering from Alexithymia, you may know how you feel, but not how to describe it; and, sufferers can have a lack of understanding of the feelings of others.

Panaite & Bylsma (2012) states under the heading, Trait Versus State Alexithymia,

Alexithymia has been proposed as a personality dimension, and validation of the construct comes through the work of Taylor and colleagues on the TAS and TAS-20. Both of these scales have been validated by examining their relationships with scales that would tap into deficits observed among people with alexithymia (e.g., access to one's feelings). Concomitantly, there are studies that support the idea that alexithymia could also be a state reaction to different mental and physical conditions.

It is important to note that alexithymia is not autism, and it is not a form of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). It is simply a distorted emotional processing that co-occurrs among individuals with ASD. Alexithymia is a psychological construct that is defined by difficulties in emotion procession, and should therefore not be considered as a diagnosis of a condition.

Hogeveen, & Grafman (2021) points out that

Alexithymia has a disruptive effect on a variety of important outcomes in patients with neurologic disorders. In both [Personality Disorder] and [Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury], clinically significant alexithymia is associated with reduced quality of life and increased caregiver burden with a disruptive impact on interpersonal relationships

You can read more about Alexithymia from Serani (2014)


Hogeveen, J., & Grafman, J. (2021). Alexithymia. Handbook of clinical neurology, 183, 47-62. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-822290-4.00004-9

Panaite, V & Bylsma, L. M. (2012). Alexithymia. In: Ramachandran, V. S. Encyclopedia of human behavior. Academic Press. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/alexithymia

Serani, D. (2014). The Emotional Blindness of Alexithymia. Scientific American https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/mind-guest-blog/the-emotional-blindness-of-alexithymia/

  • $\begingroup$ Even though I very much appreciate the effort to your answer, I specifically said in my question that I wasn't looking for the word "alexithymia." $\endgroup$
    – Lucubrator
    May 13, 2023 at 19:14

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