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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2014 December;55(4):193-205


language: Italian

Alexithymia as a disorder concerning affect regulation

Epifanio M. S. 1, La Grutta S. 1, Roccella M. 1, Lo Baido R. 2

1 Dipartimento di Scienze Psicologiche, Pedagogiche e della Formazione (SPPF), Università degli Studi di Palermo, Palermo, Italia; 2 Dipartimento di Biomedicina sperimentale e Neuroscienze Cliniche (Bio.Ne.C.), Università di Palermo, Palermo, Italia


Alexithymia is a theoretical construct concerning the ability to contact our feelings and the ability to describe them in words. It is very useful in clinical experience and also in empirical research for its operationalization and applicability possibility. After more than 40 years from its original definition, with clinical observation of patients defined “psychosomatics” according a classic definition, alexithymia has become one of the most investigated disease in the last decades. This paper aims to explore etiopathogenetic hypotheses and contemporaneous prospective within which it is possible to understand the relevance of the construct both in clinical experience and in empirical research. Furthermore, the paper examines alexithymia assessment methods to provide a complete and updated description of tools now available for clinical research. We also wish to underline the fundamental limit in a detailed study on alexithymia: the absence of psychometric tools to assess the disease in developmental age. This limit is related to the difficulty of building research tools able to understand the developmental movement in emotional processing capacity during childhood. However, there are recent preliminary studies on children/teens and preteens which pave the way for research in this direction.

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