Where did the term originate?
During the 1950s and 60s the psychiatrists Peter E. Sifneos and John C. Nemiah, working at the Beth Israel Hospital at Harvard, noted that a large proportion of patients with psychosomatic complaints had extreme difficulty talking about their emotions. These patients had other characteristics in common, including a stiff posture, a focus on functional details and a barren fantasy life. In 1972 Sifneos coined the term alexithymia to refer to this bundle of characteristics. He introduced it in two publications; in an article entitled “The Prevalence of ‘Alexithymic’ Characteristics in Psychosomatic Patients” published in the book Topics of Psychosomatic Research in 1972 and in the journal Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics in 1973; and (briefly) in his 1972 book Short-Term Psychotherapy and Emotional Crisis.