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Compr Psychiatry. 1993 Jan-Feb;34(1):54-8.

A controlled study of alexithymia in eating disorders.

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  • 1Institute of Psychiatry and Maudsley Hospital, London, England.

Abstract

The aims of the study were (1) to establish whether alexithymia is present in patients with bulimia nervosa (BN), (2) to compare bulimic patients with restricting anorexics (AN/R), bulimic anorexics (AN/BN), and normal controls with regard to alexithymia, (3) to determine whether in BN patients alexithymia is a state or a trait, and (4) to see whether alexithymia predicts short-term treatment outcome in BN. Study 1 included 173 eating disorder patients (BN: n = 93, AN/R: n = 55, AN/BN: n = 25) who were compared with 95 controls on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS). Study 2 included 41 BN patients who were assessed prospectively with the TAS before and after a 10-week drug treatment. AN/R patients in study 1 had significantly higher alexithymia scores than BN patients. All three eating disorder groups had significantly higher alexithymia scores than controls. For BN patients in study 2, TAS scores before and after drug treatment were stable, despite significant symptomatic improvement. We conclude the following: (1) eating disorder patients are considerably more alexithymic than normal controls; and (2) in BN, alexithymia may be a trait, unaffected by clinical improvement unless psychological treatment, encouraging the expression of emotions is offered.

PMID:
8425393
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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