Have you ever been told you have trouble expressing your feelings? Well, this post probably won’t help you all that much, unless you are expressing yourself to a linguist. The Latin root esthesia, meaning the capacity for sensation or feeling, appears in many common medical terms, where it allows us to have very precise ways of expressing feelings that are not all that common.

Anesthesia is perhaps the most well known term featuring esthesia.   The prefix “an-” commonly means not or the absence of something. So, anesthesia is literally the inability for sensation or feeling.

Paresthesia is formed by adding the prefix “par-” which can commonly denote something that is apart from or on the fringes of such as in parallel or paranormal. Paresthesia actually refers to a feeling of pins and needles usually in your arms and legs. This sensation, often described as “crawling” skin is therefore, sensation at the fringe of what is normal.

Synesthesia adds the prefix “syn-” which generally means together or joined. The phenomenon of synesthesia is perhaps the strangest as it refers to sensation in which one experiences a type of sensation through a sense organ that differs from the norm. For instance, people who experience significant brain trauma (or who experiment with the correct drugs) sometimes report that they can hear a smell or taste a color. Believe it or not, this is not just figurative language, but an actual (if rare) sensory disorder.

Post by: Garrett Curler, PROCare PT’s VPO