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Response to "Features of Alexithymia or features of Asperger's syndrome?" by M. Corcos in European Child and Adolescent Psychiatry 12 (2003) Suppl. 2:15-16.

Authors:
European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (2004)
13: 123 DOI 10.1007/s00787-004-0398-7 LETTER TO THE EDITORS
ECAP 398
M. Fitzgerald
Response to
“Features of Alexithymia
or features of Asperger’s
syndrome?” by M. Corcos
in European Child and
Adolescent Psychiatry 12 (2003)
Suppl. 2:15–16
Accepted: 22 January 2004
Sirs: Corcos [1] describes patients
with Alexithymia as having a special
incapacity to identify and describe
feelings and emotions, a limited
fantasmatic activity, and a prag-
matic cognitive style primarily di-
rected towards the outside world. It
would appear to me that these fea-
tures are also seen in Asperger’s
syndrome. Corcos also describes a
distinction between ‘primary Alex-
ithymia (related to a neurobiologi-
cal deficit) and secondary Alex-
ithymia (as a protective strategy
towards intense and prolonged
traumatic situations) or between
state and trait Alexithymia’. This
primary Alexithymia would appear
to correspond to Asperger’s syn-
drome with largely a genetic aetiol-
ogy. Clinically, I have also seen sec-
ondary Alexithymia, or what I
would prefer to call Asperger-like
features, in persons who have been
reared with extreme emotional de-
privation, for example in the past in
orphanages in Eastern Europe.
Corcos goes on to state that Alex-
ithymia can be considered ‘as a
transnosographic clinical dimen-
sion existing along a continuum
from normality to pathology’. In my
opinion, the same could be said of
the features of Asperger’s syn-
drome.Indeed, it would seem to me
that features of the psychopathol-
ogy of Asperger’s syndrome are
somewhat non-specific in that they
can occur in Eating disorders, Con-
duct disorders, and in Personality
disorders of the type which used to
be called Psychopathic Personality
in the past [2]. This would fit with
the notion of a continuum or spec-
trum, with ‘shadow’ syndromes and
with what Christopher Gillberg
called Empathy disorders [3]. It ap-
pears to me that recent research
supports this broader spectrum ap-
proach.
References
1. Corcos M (2003) Features of Alexithymia
or features of Asperger’s syndrome? Eur
Child Adolesc Psychiatry 12(2) Supple-
ment 2:15–16
2. Fitzgerald M (2003) Callous/unemo-
tional traits and Asperger’s syndrome. J
Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry 42(9):
1011
3. Gillberg C (1992) Autism and autistic-
like conditions: subclasses among disor-
der of empathy. J Child Psychol Psychia-
try 33:813–842
Prof. Michael Fitzgerald
Child & Family Centre
Ballyfermot Road
(Beside Health Centre)
Ballyfermot
Dublin 10
Ireland
Tel.: +353-1/6265676 or:
+353-1/6267511
Fax: +353-1/6233972
E-Mail: Fitzi@iol.ie
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Article
Full-text available
Callous/unemotional traits and social-cognitive processes in adjudicated youths.
Features of Alexithymia or features of Asperger's syndrome?
  • M Corcos
Corcos M (2003) Features of Alexithymia or features of Asperger's syndrome? Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 12(2) Supplement 2:15-16
Autism and autisticlike conditions: subclasses among disorder of empathy
  • C Gillberg
Gillberg C (1992) Autism and autisticlike conditions: subclasses among disorder of empathy. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 33:813-842
Michael Fitzgerald Child & Family Centre Ballyfermot Road (Beside Health Centre
  • Prof
Prof. Michael Fitzgerald Child & Family Centre Ballyfermot Road (Beside Health Centre) Ballyfermot Dublin 10