Article

Alexithymia in PTSD psychometric and FMRI studies

London Health Sciences Centre, 339 Windermere Road, PO Box 5339, London, Ontario, Canada, N6A 5A5.
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences (Impact Factor: 4.31). 08/2006; 1071:397-400. DOI: 10.1196/annals.1364.029
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Two studies examined correlates of alexithymia in posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In study 1 (n = 77 individuals with PTSD and 45 controls) Toronto alexithymia scale (TAS-20) scores were positively correlated with PTSD symptoms, dissociation, and childhood abuse and neglect. In study 2, TAS-20 scores were examined as correlates of functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) blood oxygen level dependent (BOLD) response to trauma script imagery. In 16 controls, TAS-20 scores correlated positively with response in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC), and negatively with response in anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and thalamus. In 26 individuals with PTSD, TAS-20 scores correlated positively with response in insula, posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), and thalamus, and negatively with response in ACC.

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    ABSTRACT: Introduction: There is a remarkable relationship between alexithymia and eating disorders. Objective: The aim of this chapter is to make an exhaustive review of the literature about the construct of alexithymia within the context of eating disorders and its subtypes. Method: Medline/Pubmed databases and specialized textbooks were used to look for the evidence on alexithymia in eating disordered patients. Discussion: The main findings show that eating disordered patients are considerably more alexithymic than normal controls while eating disorder symptoms are more common in alexithymic adolescents. Alexithymia is a predisposing factor for perfectionism, which also may lead to the development of eating disorders and it may be conceptualized as a maladaptive-reactive construct. Those with active eating disorders achieve high scores for alexithymia mediating a relationship between family dynamic and maltreatment. Parental alexithymia could be a trait of personality, but it could also be a state due to distress. Depressive dimension can facilitate the development of interpersonal deficits (e.g., dependence) in vulnerable alexithymic eating disordered subjects. The perceived inability to experience emotional feelings is higher in anorectic patients who show a more diminished fantasy life, are particularly prone to silencing negative affect and avoid communication involving unpleasant affect, experience their emotions in a confusing way and are often unable to describe them; nevertheless, it is uncertain whether these deficits result from starvation. Bulimics are characterized by their inability to describe feelings and differentiate between emotions and bodily sensations, and by their tendency to be impatient, showing hostility and a hard-driving style; they usually respond to stress by binging and vomiting, but find it difficult to make a link between their behaviour and emotional triggers. Alexithymic binge eating disordered patients exhibited more difficulty in identifying and describing feelings associated with an increased suicide ideation. Alexithymia can act as a negative prognostic factor of the long-term outcome worsening over the course of treatment. Traditional psychoanalysis has been found to be rather ineffective, whereas an approach evoking encouragement of initiative and autonomy during therapy interventions (cognitive-behavioural, psycho-educational and interpersonal), which promote the identification and expression of feelings, may be particularly useful. Conclusion: Alexithymic eating disordered patients process emotional information differently than non-alexithymic subjects. The quality of research in the field of alexithymia could be raised by including more interdisciplinary perspectives and experimental methods. Furthermore, the need for early intervention to avoid a chronic installation of these emotional deficits and a more global impairment on identity construction is suggested.
    Advances in Psychology Research, Edited by Alexandra M. Columbus, 08/2014: chapter 4: pages 81-108; Nova Science Publishers., ISBN: 978-1-63321-482-8
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    ABSTRACT: Abstrakt Alexithymie představuje zajímavý fenomén, který je zařazen mezi hraniční koncepce psychosomatické medicíny. V tomto článku se zaměřujeme na výklad o podstatě a vyme-zení alexithymie. Na základě diagnostických metod poukazujeme na základní a širší dělení alexithymie. V etiologické rovině se zabýváme výklady psychologickými, sociolo-gickými, kognitivně neuropsychologickými a neurochemickými. V těchto výkladech poukazujeme na stav poznání, který byl v oblasti výzkumu alexithymie učiněn. Abstract Alexithymia represents an interesting phenomenon, which is classified as a borderline concept in psychosomatic medicine.The focus of the article is on essence and definition of alexithymia. In terms of diagnostic methods, the article refers to basic and broad divisions of alexithymia.On the etiological level, the interpretations from the fields of psychology, sociology, cognitive neuropsychology and neurochemistry are discussed. Attention is paid to the contemporary state of knowledge in alexithymia research.
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    ABSTRACT: Previous studies have indicated that alexithymia is associated with the availability of serotonin in the brain and with the insecure attachment orientation. Inspired by the finding that the receptor 5-HT1A modulates the level of serotonin in the brain, this study investigated to what extent a polymorphism (C-1019G, rs6295) of 5-HT1A gene modulates individuals’ alexithymic characteristics and attachment orientation in 504 Chinese Han people. Results showed significantly higher total scores on the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) for individuals carrying the CG/GG genotype than for individuals carrying the CC genotype. Specifically, individuals with the CG/GG genotype reported greater difficulty in identifying own feelings than individuals with the CC genotype. Results also showed that individuals carrying the CG/GG genotype seemed to be less comfortable with having close relationships to others than individuals with the CC genotype. These findings provide the first evidence for the link between 5-HT1A and the development of alexithymic characteristics and attachment orientation.
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