Article

Stability of Alexithymia and its relationships with the 'big five' factors, temperament, character, and attachment style

Center of Epidemiology and Health Surveillance and Promotion, Italian National Institute of Health, Rome, Italy.
Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics (Impact Factor: 9.37). 02/2005; 74(6):371-8. DOI: 10.1159/000087785
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Controversy still exists concerning the stability of the alexithymia construct. Also, although alexithymia has been found to be related in a theoretically meaningful way to other personality constructs such as the 'Big Five' factors, few studies have investigated its relationship with influential constructs such as temperament and character, and attachment security.
Two hundred twenty-one undergraduate and graduate students were administered the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), the Zung Depression Scale (ZDS), the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI-125), the Big Five Questionnaire (BFQ), and the Experiences in Close Relationships (ECR) questionnaire. After 1 month, 115 participants completed again the TAS-20, STAI, and ZDS.
Alexithymia was only moderately correlated with depression and anxiety. Both the absolute and relative stability of TAS-20 total and subscale scores was high, and a negligible portion of their change over time was accounted for by changes in depression or anxiety. In separate multiple regression models including also gender, age, depression and anxiety, TAS-20 total and subscale scores were correlated with low energy/extraversion, low emotional stability, openness, low friendliness/agreeableness; harm avoidance, low self-directedness, low cooperativeness, low reward dependence; attachment-related avoidance and anxiety.
Our findings lend support for both absolute and relative stability of alexithymia, corroborate an association between alexithymia and insecure attachment, and contribute to a coherent placing of alexithymia in the broader theoretical network of personality constructs.

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    • "Alexithymia (AL) is construed as a stable personality trait characterized especially by poor assimilation of thoughts, feelings and emotions (Honkalampi et al., 2001; Martin and Pihl, 1985; Parker and Taylor, 1997; Picardi et al., 2005; Luminet et al., 2007; Taylor, 2004). Several brain regions and their associated networks have been implicated in alexithymic behavior suggesting a neurobiological underpinning for the trait. "
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    ABSTRACT: Psychosocial function and adherence to antiretroviral regimen are key factors in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease management. Alexithymia (AL) is a trait deficit in the ability to identify and describe feelings, emotions and bodily sensations. A structural equation model was used to test whether high levels of AL indirectly relate to greater non-adherent behavior and HIV disease severity via psychosocial dysfunction. Blood draws for HIV-1 viral load and CD4 T-lymphocyte, along with psychosocial surveys were collected from 439 HIV positive adults aged 18-73 years. The structural model supports significant paths from: (1) AL to non-active patient involvement, psychological distress, and lower social support, (2) psychological distress and non-active involvement to non-adherent behavior, and (3) non-adherence to greater HIV disease severity (CFI = .97, RMSEA = .04, SRMR = .05). A second model confirmed the intermediary effect of greater patient assertiveness on the path from AL to social support and non-active patient involvement (CFI = .94, RMSEA = .04, SRMR = .05). Altogether, AL is indirectly linked with HIV disease management through it's association with poor psychosocial function, however greater patient assertiveness buffers the negative impact of AL on relationship quality with healthcare providers and members of one's social support network.
    AIDS and Behavior 07/2015; DOI:10.1007/s10461-015-1126-7 · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    • "Using a sample of healthy pregnant women, this study extended previously published studies examining relations between alexithymia and attachment, as well as studies that have investigated the associations of one or other of these constructs with perceived relationship adjustment or the domains of the FFM of personality. Our finding that women classified as insecure on the AAI were more alexithymic than women classified as secure is consistent not only with findings from two previous studies that measured attachment with the AAI [46] [47], but also with multiple studies that assessed attachment styles with self-report questionnaires [38] [39] [40] [41] [42] [43] [44] [45]. In addition, our study is the first to examine relations between alexithymia and coherence of mind, which is rated as a continuous variable and is considered " theoretically and empirically the single best indicator of AAI security " [26]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Several studies have demonstrated associations between alexithymia, adult attachment styles, personality traits, and relationship adjustment. Only two studies, however, have explored associations between alexithymia and attachment representations. As part of a larger investigation of maternal and infant attachment, the current study explored this association in a sample of 97 pregnant women; in addition, measures of alexithymia and domains of the five-factor model (FFM) of personality were compared in predicting attachment security, assessed with the Adult Attachment Interview Coherence of Mind mind scale, and perceived relationship adjustment. Alexithymia negatively predicted coherence of mind; the domains of the FFM did not add significantly to the prediction. The Openness-to-Experience domain predicted relationship adjustment better than alexithymia. Contrary to findings from studies that assessed adult attachment styles, coherence of mind was unrelated to relationship adjustment and the FFM. The results suggest that alexithymia does not uniquely predict relationship adjustment beyond the domains of the FFM.
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    • "Alexithymia (AL) is construed as a stable personality trait characterized especially by poor assimilation of thoughts, feelings and emotions (Honkalampi et al., 2001; Martin and Pihl, 1985; Parker and Taylor, 1997; Picardi et al., 2005; Luminet et al., 2007; Taylor, 2004). Several brain regions and their associated networks have been implicated in alexithymic behavior suggesting a neurobiological underpinning for the trait. "
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    ABSTRACT: The neuropathological changes which result from infection of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection may manifest in alexithymia (AL), a multidimensional trait characterized by impairments in affective and cognitive emotional processing. A sample of 93 HIV survivors scoring high, i.e., ⩾ 74 on the 26-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-26) were compared to 79 low AL (TAS-26 ⩽ 54) survivors on measures of neurocognitive, psychological, neuroendocrine and immune function. Neurocognitive measures probed visual attention and task switching, levels of HIV Dementia and general cognitive status. Patients were also screened for levels of depression, anxiety and psychological stress. A 24-hr urinary norepinephrine (NE) and cortisol (CORT) collection was taken and blood drawn for T lymphocyte subset counts (CD4+CD3+) and HIV-1 viral load. Alexithymic patients exhibited greater executive dysfunction, psychological distress, norepinephrine-to-cortisol (NE/CORT) ratios and viral load. Linear regression models accounting for sociodemographic and disease-related variables within the entire sample revealed two AL subscales, difficulties identifying and describing feelings, predicted and explained a significant proportion of variance in the outcome measures. Specifically, poorer executive task-switching ability was associated with greater difficulty describing feelings; dysregulated autonomic response (high NE/CORT ratio) and depressive symptoms were predicted by level of difficulty identifying feelings; higher levels of anxiety and psychological stress were predicted by greater difficulty describing and identifying feelings. The psychoneuroimmunological profile of alexithymia in HIV positive persons at mid-stage of infection suggests a greater vulnerability for disease progression.
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