There are times in life when people come up with a question, ‘why?’ when they do not understand others. We often have problems like this because we can’t communicate well with even close friends. The book Almond satirizes an unsympathetic social phenomenon through the story of Yoon-Jae, who suffers from Alexithymia. Let's find out about Alexithymia and take a chance to reflect on our lives to see if we sympathize and communicate well with others in our daily lives.
Alexithymia is a concept introduced in the 1970s by psychologists Peter Sifneos and John C. Nemiah. It is a symptom of having difficulty in recognizing or describing emotions, it’s also an insensitivity to recognizing others' feelings. They are almost impossible to stay close with others because it is difficult to get involved to others’ feelings. Therefore, people who experience these symptoms tend to have shallow relationships.
As mentioned above, Yoon-Jae is a boy who has an innate brain problem and has difficulty recognizing and expressing emotions. Therefore, Yoon-Jae is taught a very basic system of behavior from his mother and grandmother, such as 'When someone smiles, you have to smile with him, too' and 'When a car comes in a rush, you have to avoid it’. However, as Yoon-Jae grows older, he faces other complex situations besides the trained ones. Yoon-Jae doesn't understand complex situations and doesn’t respond properly when he faces them.
One day, Yoon-Jae encounters a Gon-Yi, who is a boy of similar age to his. Gon-Yi is a child with sufficient feelings of anger, sadness, and injustice. He becomes interested in the fact that Yun-Jae cannot feel and shows his interest to Yoon-Jae by speaking and behaving in a rough manner. One day, he disbands a butterfly and shows it to Yoon-Jae in the name of ‘empathy education’. After, Gon-Yi asks, "How do you think about butterfly?” continuously until Yoon-Jae feels empathy. Yoon-Jae ends up saying that the butterfly looks ‘uncomfortable’, not ‘pitiful’. These situations makes Gon-Yi feel frustrated and upset at the end. From this opportunity, Yoon-Jae thinks about how he has to react and how long he will live his life like that. "I think it's similar to how I can't watch the movies that all the others have seen" he said, and he becomes curious about others’ feeling, which later makes changes on himself. From then on, Yoon-Jae meets with other people and his friends and gradually, he understands the feelings or friendship.
Now, think again on how important it is to share your feelings with others through Almond. Did you convey your heart to a close person? Didn’t you disregard the other person? Let's express your feelings with sincerity. And let's get closer to the other’s heart and knock on the door of it. Then, you will be able to have a warm and sympathetic conversation.
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