Correlates and retrospectively reported antecedents of alexithymia

H. Berenbaum, T. James

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Two experiments were conducted in order to examine the relationship between alexithymia and: 1) family environment; 2) discomfort and ambivalence experiencing and expressing emotion; and 3) dissociation. Research participants in both experiments were college students. We examined the ability to identify and communicate emotion using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale. In Experiment 1, we found that alexithymia was significantly correlated with ambivalence concerning expression of emotion (measured using the Ambivalence over Emotional Expressiveness Questionnaire) and with discomfort concerning negative emotional states (measured using a new instrument called the Emotional Experience Discomfort Scale). Higher levels of alexithymia were associated with retrospective reports of diminished family expressiveness (measured using the Expressiveness subscale of the Family Environment Scale) and with feeling less emotionally safe during childhood (measured using a new instrument called the Childhood Experiences Questionnaire). In Experiment 2, we found that alexithymia was significantly correlated with dissociative experiences (measured using the Dissociative Experiences Scale). However, alexithymia and dissociation differed in the way they were associated with retrospective reports of different aspects of family expressiveness (measured using the Family Expressiveness Questionnaire). High levels of dissociation were associated with increased negative dominant family communication. In contrast, high levels of alexithymia were associated with low levels of positive family communication.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)353-359
Number of pages7
JournalPsychosomatic Medicine
Volume56
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1994

Keywords

  • alexithymia
  • childhood
  • dissociation
  • emotion
  • family

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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