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Span J Psychol. 2003 May;6(1):51-9.

Alexithymia--state or trait?

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  • 1Departamento de Psicología Básica y Metodología, Facultad de Psicología, Edificio Luis Vives, Universidad de Murcia, Apartado 4021, 30080 Murcia, Spain.


Alexithymia refers to a specific disturbance in emotional processing that is manifested by difficulties in identifying and verbalizing feelings and a tendency to focus on and amplify the somatic sensations that accompany emotional arousal. Alexithymia is conceptualized both as an affect-deficit disorder and a continuous personality variable. The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the stability levels of alexithymia with regard to changes in emotional distress levels caused by university exams. We tested 20 university students at four different times, before and after the exams. Alexithymic features and self-reported emotional distress (trait anxiety and physical symptoms) were measured. Whereas emotional distress measures changed significantly during the diverse phases, the level of alexithymia remained unchanged. We therefore conclude that alexithymia represents a constant trait.

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