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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2010 Oct;32(8):890-7. doi: 10.1080/13803391003596462. Epub 2010 Apr 7.

Alexithymia in schizophrenia.

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School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.


Changes in emotional and social behavior are considered to be amongst the most common and debilitating consequences of schizophrenia. However, little is known of the effects of schizophrenia on alexithymia, which refers to impairment in aspects of understanding emotions. In the current study, participants with schizophrenia (n = 29) and nonclinical controls (n = 30) completed self-report and performance-based measures of this construct, in addition to measures of cognitive functioning, clinical symptomatology, and negative affect. The results indicated that individuals with schizophrenia showed increased alexithymia as indexed by the performance task, with these difficulties related to cognitive functioning, and the specific clinical symptom of alogia. However, although the correlation between self-reported alexithymia and negative affect in the schizophrenia group was congruent with prior empirical research and theory, there were no group differences in perceived levels of alexithymia. It is suggested that alexithymia may not be affected per se in schizophrenia (as indicated by the lack of group differences on the self-report measure of this construct), but that schizophrenia-related difficulties do emerge in contexts where cognitive demands are incremented.

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