Somatic aphasia: Mismatch of body sensations with autonomic stress reactivity in psychopathy

Department of Psychology, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York, United States.
Biological psychology (Impact Factor: 3.4). 04/2012; 90(3):228-33. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2012.03.015
Source: PubMed


Although one of the main characteristics of psychopaths is a deficit in emotion, it is unknown whether they show a fundamental impairment in appropriately recognizing their own body sensations during an emotion-inducing task.
Skin conductance and heart rate were recorded in 138 males during a social stressor together with subjective reports of body sensations. Psychopathic traits were assessed using the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) 2nd edition (Hare, 2003).
Nonpsychopathic controls who reported higher body sensations showed higher heart rate reactivity, but this verbal-autonomic consistency was not found in psychopathic individuals. This mind-body disconnection is particularly associated with the interpersonal-affective factor of psychopathy.
Findings are the first to document this body sensation-autonomic mismatch in psychopaths, and suggest that somatic aphasia - the inaccurate identification and recognition of one's own somatic states - may partly underlie the interpersonal-affective features of psychopathy.

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Available from: Yu Gao, Apr 03, 2015
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    • "Thus, individual differences in one's ability to match internal states to verbal categories (e.g., alexithymia), and associated impairments in self awareness also play a role in subjective experiences of emotions. Alexithymia has been reported in SZ (Van't Wout et al., 2007), and schizotypy (Seghers et al., 2011; Aaron et al., 2015) and may be related to 'somatic aphasia, ' which refers to impaired identification and recognition of one's own somatic states (Gao et al., 2012). Difficulties in identification, categorization , and understanding of internal states may be driven by meta-cognitive deficits (see Lysaker et al., 2011, 2013; Lysaker and Dimaggio, 2014) in addition to multiple problems at the sensory input stage of information processing (e.g., Doniger et al., 2001; Leitman et al., 2010; Postmes et al., 2014). "
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