Flat affect

Every time I write a personal blog and I think I’m done learning about myself, I find something else out about myself that I didn’t know.

I used to stare in the mirror as a child, not because I was vain and I liked looking at myself, but because my facial expressions seemed flat. I didn’t know that was a thing until recently when I talked about it with my CBT therapist.

The term, ‘flat affect’ is used to describe a lack of emotional reactivity, typically observed in people with autism. It is a failure to express feelings, especially in response to issues or situations that we would normally be expected to engage the emotions.

A person with the condition rarely shows expressive facial gestures and/or animation in facial expression or change in voice. A person with flat affect has nearly no emotional expression, or no expression at all. When I smile, my facial expressions are fixed instead of being naturally animated. I also talk in a flat and monotoned tone. 

Out of necessity, and using my intuition, I have taught myself to read people’s facial expressions and social cues. Through my blog I think about my emotions and write them down, rather than show or talk about my emotions, face to face.

I can’t believe how much work I’ve had to do, just to function ‘in my own normal’ despite my neurological difficulties, and the fact that at the age of 56 I am still learning about myself.


14 Dec, 2018

2 thoughts on “Flat affect

  1. It is hard to comprehend how much you were yet to find about yourself following your cerebral palsy diagnosis 9 years ago. I hope this is the last step of your journey.

    All I can say is that the more you discover about the real you, the more peace you will find; as all your experiences throughout your life begin to finally make sense.

    As for those who chose to hide the truth from you, they know what they have done and that they should have done things differently.

    1. Thank you. I think that also. As I said in the last paragraph of my blog, I feel nothing at all. This is because the part of the brain that deals with my emotions is the part that is damaged.

      Having gone through my experiences where I’ve literally had to fend for myself and work through a diagnosis of a disability I didn’t know I had, but I’ve also had to work through each individual symptom.

      I think feeling nothing in my case is a good thing, because I am being protected from the neglect and abuse that make up my experiences.

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