I was reading today that Rome has just elected its first woman mayor:


Virginia Raggi, the telegenic populist candidate from Italy’s 5-Star Movement (M5S), has won a landslide victory to become the first female mayor of Rome, defeating the Democratic Party candidate Roberto Giachetti by more than thirty points in Sunday’s runoff election.

“This is a historic moment, a turning point,” said Raggi, who has been called “the Trump of Rome.”

This sounded promising, 5-Star is the populist party of comedian Bepe Grillo. A few clicks later I was reading about him.

…he was in hot water when, in 1986, he made a scathing joke — perhaps his most famous — about corruption in the inner circle of Bettino Craxi, Italy’s socialist prime minister at the time. “If everyone in China is a socialist, from whom do they steal?” he said. Grillo was barred from state television…

“It’s because the corrupt don’t think they’re corrupt. Those who use public funds for their own fucking business think it’s their money. And they buy champagne, dinners, vibrators, and petrol vouchers with it.”…

“I don’t know, it’s always the same story. Every nation has lost its sovereignty.”…

He starts attacking “those people” who have a stranglehold on Europe’s economy. “They have a kind of illness, it’s called alexithymia, which means difficulty recognising the emotions of others: pain, pleasure, joy,” he says. Does he mean people like Merkel and Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission? “Yes,” he responds. “They don’t care if they have to put tens of millions of people into hunger to balance an account, it’s collateral damage.

Alexithymia. That’s a new one on me. Wikipedia:

Alexithymia /ˌeɪlɛksəˈθaɪmiə/ is a personality construct characterized by the sub-clinical inability to identify and describe emotions in the self.

Scientific American, The Emotional Blindness of Alexithymia:

Difficulty identifying different types of feelings
Limited understanding of what causes feelings
Difficulty expressing feelings
Difficulty recognizing facial cues in others
Limited or rigid imagination
Constricted style of thinking
Hypersensitive to physical sensations
Detached or tentative connection to others

Alexithymia was first mentioned as a psychological construct in 1976 and was viewed as a deficit in emotional awareness. Research suggests that approximately 8% of males and 2% of females experience alexithymia, and that it can come in mild, moderate and severe intensities.

Maybe most politicians are alexithymic? And Tobacco Controllers too? What’s always missing is any empathy for excluded and denormalised smokers. The only thing that matters is “health”. They don’t recognise smoking as a pleasure. Or being exiled to the outdoors as a pain.

Which reminds me that Dmitri Kosyrev emailed me yesterday to tell me about a terrible experience he’d just had. He’d been at a Nicotine (vaping) conference in Warsaw, and guess who he unwittingly found himself sitting next to?

Deborah Arnott.

He only realised when she stood up, identified herself, and asked a question in a “baritone” voice.

What a horrible shock! Like finding yourself sitting next to Himmler or Goebbels.

I could readily empathise. I’m not alexithymic.

What would you do in that circumstance? Try to strangle them, right then and there? Most likely, like the gentlemanly Dmitri, you’d do nothing. And that’s why we have all these Himmlers and Goebbels and Arnotts: everyone’s far too polite to them.

And Deborah Arnott (and also Linda Bauld, who was also there) is probably alexithymic. When she wrote that “smokers will be exiled to the outdoors”, it was without any trace of recognition of how smokers might feel about that.

At least both Deborah Arnott and Linda Bauld were booed at the conference.

Hillary Clinton is probably another alexithymic. But probably not Donald Trump.

I learned a new word today, courtesy of Bepe Grillo.


About Frank Davis

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Alexithymia

  1. Frank Davis says:


    The Queen has been canvassing opinion on the EU debate by asking dinner companions: “Give me three good reasons why Britain should be part of Europe.”

    Her Majesty’s biographer, Robert Lacey, reported the Queen’s comments and suggested they may mean the Queen favours withdrawal from the European Union.

    Buckingham Palace would neither confirm nor deny that the Queen had been debating the merits of Brexit in private, but royal sources pointed out that the words attributed to the Queen were “a question not a statement”.

  2. harleyrider1978 says:

    I might need to take me a Roman holiday………….

  3. junican says:

    I have been saying recently that the big problem with tobacco control, and many other modern hysterias, has been lack of humanity. If you read the American Constitution, it is all about humanity – the right to pursue your preferred religion, the right of free speech, the right to protect yourself, the right to own property, the right to make your own decisions as to how you live your life, and so on.
    What we are seeing in the EU, WHO, etc is an abrogation of those rights. In the place of personal rights has appeared collective rights, and, furtively, those collective rights have been engineered to oust personal rights.
    Stalin’s ‘Collectives” are alive and well in the EU, WHO, FCTC, IPCC, UN. ‘Collectivism’ is the new version of ‘totalitarianism’.
    There is no getting away from the bastards. They reinvent themselves over and over again.

    What do we elect MPs for? For heavens sake! Historically, it was to PROTECT THE PEOPLE against tyranny, and yet our MPs have, perhaps unconsciously, allowed themselves to become tyrants. It really is hard to believe what has happened. It is when you see MPs like Soubry signing the UK up to the TobCon Directive without knowing what it said, and then being promoted(!), that you know that Democracy is fucked.
    Democracy is fucked because the humanity has been lost.

  4. harleyrider1978 says:

    Greece struggling with smoking ban

    speccomm | June 7, 2016

    Greece is still struggling to implement a tobacco smoking ban in public spaces nearly nine years after it became law, according to a story by Sarantis Michalopoulos for EurActiv.

    According to a World Health Organization report, Greece’s compliance with the ban is poor.

    On a scale of 0-10, where scores eight and above demonstrate high levels of compliance and scores below five demonstrate low levels, Greece’s rating is three.

    In particular, the report notes, compliance levels in cafés, bars and restaurants ranged from 0 to two.

    In 2002, Greece enacted a law banning smoking in public and private workplaces, on transport, and in healthcare facilities and educational institutions, but exemptions were allowed and the law atrophied

    A new law was enacted in 2008 that banned the consumption of tobacco products in all workplaces, in taxis and on ferries, and in all enclosed public places.

    But since then, according to the EurActiv story, nothing has changed, despite the fact that 62 percent of smokers find the smoking ban positive.

    One reason for this is that a vast majority of bar and restaurant owners are not abiding by the law.

    Dr. Philipos Philippidis, a lecturer at the School of Public Health at London’s Imperial College, said that the economic crisis, fear of the political cost of a ban and the influence of the tobacco industry had paralysed the implementation of anti-smoking laws.

    He strongly criticised authorities for the fact that last year no fines for smoking violations were collected and insisted that Greek people were exposed to passive smoking in restaurants, bars, workplaces, etc. more than were the people of any other European country.

    The Ministry of Health issued a statement on May 31, World No Tobacco Day, recognising that efforts to implement an effective smoking ban had not been successful.

    But it said that it was planning to take relevant initiatives for the implementation of the smoking ban.

    Asked by EurActiv when it was planning to take such initiatives, ministry sources replied “soon”.

  5. mikef317 says:

    Off topic. On the Exit vote. Not my problem, but what the hell, I have a (foolish?) urge to state my two cents.

    Speaking as an American who will only dip a hesitant toe into the sea of English politics, my (worthless?) opinion on the EU referendum is this – don’t just Exit – RUN. Run as fast and as far as you can.

  6. prog says:

    1975:Labour’s Peter Shore on Project Fear – “The message that comes out is fear, fear, fear”

    Powerful stuff

  7. Rose says:

    No changes to Britain’s February EU deal – Juncker
    22 June 2016

    “European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Wednesday that there would be no changes to a package of measures that EU governments agreed with Britain in February aimed at keeping London in the 28-nation bloc.

    “British policymakers and British voters have to know that there will be no kind of renegotiation,” Juncker said of the deal on Feb. 20 that gave Britain an explicit exemption from the founding goal of “ever closer union”, offered concessions on the welfare rights of migrant workers and safeguards for the City of London financial centre.

    “We have concluded a deal with the prime minister. He got the maximum he could receive and we gave the maximum we could give. So there will be no renegotiation, not on the agreement we found in February, nor as far as any kind of treaty negotiations are concerned,” Juncker said.”

    Major blow for Cameron as EU boss tells PM: There’ll be NO more reform if you Remain
    22 June 2016 3:51

    “European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker today dismissed Mr Cameron’s eve-of-referendum pledge he will push for changes to migration rules if the UK stays in the EU beyond the historic referendum in less than 24 hours time.

    It represents a major blow to the Tory leader’s hopes of persuading still undecided voters to vote Remain with the promise of a further renegotiation of Britain’s relationship with Brussels.

    In a newspaper interview today the Prime Minister said he can “guarantee” a Remain result will give him the mandate to push eurocrats for greater reform of the 28-country bloc.

    “Vowing he will demand changes to the EU’s freedom of movement rules, Mr Cameron told the Daily Telegraph: “Reform doesn’t end on Friday.

    “The only way it ends is if we leave.”

    He added: “And of course, top of the agenda will be let’s make Europe better at fighting terrorism, let’s sign these trade deals with the rest of the world, let’s deliver all the things we promised and more when it comes to changing the EU.

    “That’s what Britain does.”

    “But, within hours, Mr Juncker had rubbished the Prime Minister’s suggestion he will be able to encourage more change within the EU.

    The unelected official told reporters in Brussels: “The British policy makers and British voters have to know that there will not be any kind of renegotiation.”

    So no matter what David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn have been promising today in an attempt to get us to Remain, it ain’t happening.

  8. Clicky says:

  9. Roobeedoo2 says:

    Haters gotta hate…

  10. garyk30 says:

    Is the vote a ‘binding’ referendum or just an elaborate polling of preferences?

    Is your govt compelled to abide by the results?

    • Frank Davis says:

      I guess we’ll find out on Friday.

      • nisakiman says:

        My guess is that it will be close-run, and if Brexit prevails by a small margin, which seems quite likely, then gerrymandering will become the order of the day, recounts will be demanded, and remain will carry the vote.

        Of course, there will be much complaining, but government is a past master at ignoring what the hoi-polloi want, so I don’t think they’ll have any problems with this.

  11. harleyrider1978 says:

    Delia Smith slams Brexit poster as ‘anti-human’ as Nigel Farage pulls out of Channel 4 referendum debate at the last minute for ‘family reasons’
    Ms Smith described poster as ‘darkest moment’ of the EU campaign
    Farage was not present to defend it after pulling out of debate at 2pm
    Impassioned 90 minute debate saw both sides clash in heated exchanges
    Audience, split equally between in, out and undedcided, backed Remain

  12. harleyrider1978 says:

  13. harleyrider1978 says:

  14. harleyrider1978 says:

    ‘Shoot And Stab Nigel Farage’: Hundreds Of Social Media Messages ……/shoot-and-stab-nigel-farage-hundreds-of-social-media-...


    3 days ago – Basic level searches under the search terms “shoot Nigel Farage”, “stab Nigel … For example, on January 17th 2013, Liberal Democrat member Craig … Some social media users urge others to attack Mr. Farage, while some … recently in Northampton, and last year when his family were chased out of their …

  15. harleyrider1978 says:

    its been rumored one of his family was attacked not confirmed though

  16. castello2 says:

    Linda Bauld wants to know which nicotine conference she was booed at. Not in Warsaw she says.

No need to log in

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.