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Frequent Coffee Drinkers Are Often 'Cold Hearted'

Oct 06, 2014 04:05 PM EDT

Do you have trouble empathizing with others? Is it hard to express what you're feeling? Does passion seem like foreign concept to you? Then you might also find that you've been drinking a TON of coffee. That is, at least according to a new study that looks into the connection between caffeine and a person's emotional health or personality.

The study, recently published in the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, details how drinking too much coffee and other caffeinated beverages on a consistent basis appears to be tied to alexithymia - a personality trait characterized by difficulty recognizing and showing emotions.

This was determined in a survey of 106 university students, in which questions assessed both regular caffeine consumption and personality indicators for alexithymia - a trait some might call "cold heartedness."

Interestingly, the researchers quickly found that students who were likely struggling with the concept of emotions were consuming almost twice as much caffeine every day compared to more emotionally competent students. They found that the students most likely to be alexithymic were consuming an average of three-and-a-half cups of coffee a day.

But don't panic just yet. Firstly, it's just a personality trait. It's what makes you, you! And secondly, just because you drink a lot of coffee doesn't necessarily mean you are alexithymic. The well known psychotherapist Henry Krystal once said that in therapy it becomes apparent that alexithymics boast some traits that can be described as "unusual," as the patients tend to recount trivial, chronologically ordered actions, reactions, and events of daily life with monotonous detail.

Alexithymics tend to appear "cold" because they value logic and reason - easily understood - over emotions, which confuse them. However, unlike those with sochiopathy - a serious and little understood condition - alexithymics still feel emotions. They are just confused by them.

And according to Mike Lyvers, who led the recent study, this can be overwhelming and cause anxiety, causing many to turn to mind-altering or focusing substances for support.

"A significant subset of alcoholics and drug addicts are alexithymic, and this seems to be associated with worse treatment outcomes," he recently told Popular Science.

Lyvers is now looking to confirm exactly why alexithymics so commonly reach for coffee beverages in particular.

If you think you might be alexithymic, you can check using an Alexithymie Questionnaire here.

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