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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1999 Sep;77(3):630-41.

Expressive writing and the role of alexythimia as a dispositional deficit in self-disclosure and psychological health.

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Department of Social Psychology, University of the Basque Country, San Sebastián, Spain.


Psychology students were randomly assigned to a condition in which they had to write for 20 min on 3 days or for 3 min on 1 day a factual description of disclosed traumas, undisclosed traumas, or recent social events. In the case of undisclosed traumatic events, intensive writing about these events showed a beneficial effect on affect and on the affective impact of remembering the event and appraisal. Participants who wrote briefly about an undisclosed traumatic event showed a more negative appraisal. Participants who wrote intensively about a traumatic event and had a dispositional deficit in self-disclosure, measured by a Toronto Alexithymia Scale subscale, showed a positive effect on self-reported measures of affect. Difficulty in describing feelings, an alexythimia dimension, correlated with psychological health problems, emotional inhibition, and a less introspective content of written essays about the emotional events.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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