alexa Insecure attachment strategies are associated with cognitive alexithymia in patients with severe somatoform disorder.


Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

Author(s): Koelen JA, EurelingsBontekoe EH, Stuke F, Luyten P

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Abstract OBJECTIVE: In light of interpersonal difficulties and their relation to alexithymia in patients with somatoform disorder, the primary aim of this study was to explore the association between two insecure attachment strategies (deactivation and hyperactivation strategies), and affective and cognitive alexithymia in a sample of 128 patients with severe somatoform disorder, over and above the levels of negative affectivity and personality pathology. METHOD: In a cross-sectional study among patients with somatoform disorder, self-report data were obtained using measures for alexithymia (Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire), attachment (Experiences in Close Relationships Questionnaire), personality pathology (Inventory of Personality Organization), and negative affectivity (Dutch Short Form of the MMPI). We used hierarchical regression analyses to test main effects of attachment deactivation and hyperactivation strategies in the prediction of both cognitive and affective alexithymia, while controlling for the levels of negative affectivity and personality pathology. RESULTS: Only cognitive alexithymia, i.e., the inability to analyze, identify, and verbalize emotions, was associated with personality dysfunction, in particular insecure attachment strategies. Affective alexithymia, i.e., the inability to fantasize and to experience emotions, was associated (negatively) with negative affectivity but not with the personality variables. CONCLUSIONS: This study, therefore, indicates that both types of alexithymia are relevant for the assessment and treatment of severe somatoform disorder, yet each type may tap into different features of somatoform disorder. © The Author(s) 2015. This article was published in Int J Psychiatry Med and referenced in Journal of Psychology & Psychotherapy

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