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Psychiatry Res. 2016 Mar 30;237:296-303. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2016.01.025. Epub 2016 Jan 14.

Alexithymia, emotion dysregulation, impulsivity and aggression: A multiple mediation model.

Author information

1
Department of Educational Sciences, University of Genoa, Corso Andrea Podestà 2, 16128 Genoa, Italy. Electronic address: patrizia.velotti@unige.it.
2
Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via degli Apuli 1, 00185 Rome, Italy; Department of Developmental Psychology, Tilburg University, Warandelaan 2, 5037 AB Tilburg, The Netherlands. Electronic address: cgarofalo24@gmail.com.
3
Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome, Via degli Apuli 1, 00185 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: chiarapetrocchi@gmail.com.
4
Il Negozio di Psicologia Pescara, Spinal Unit San Raffaele Sulmona Institute, Corso Umberto I 25, 65122 Pescara, Italy. Electronic address: francycavallo@hotmail.it.
5
Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Piazza dei Martiri di Belfiore 4, 00195 Rome, Italy; Studi Cognitivi, Via Pietro Giardini, 472, 41100 Modena, Italy. Electronic address: popoloraffaele@gmail.com.
6
Center for Metacognitive Interpersonal Therapy, Piazza dei Martiri di Belfiore 4, 00195 Rome, Italy. Electronic address: gdimaje@libero.it.

Abstract

There is a need to better understand the antecedent of aggressive behaviors in order to tailor treatments and reduce the associated damage to the others and the self. Possible mechanisms underlying aggression are poor emotional awareness and emotion dysregulation, as well as impulsivity. Here, we examined the relationships among alexithymia, emotion dysregulation, impulsivity and aggression, comparing a mixed psychiatric sample (N=257) and a community sample (N=617). The clinical sample reported greater levels of alexithymia, emotion dysregulation, trait impulsivity and aggression, than the community sample. Furthermore, in the community sample, emotion dysregulation and impulsivity mediated the relationship (i.e., accounted for the shared variance) between alexithymia and aggression. In the clinical sample, only emotion dysregulation explained the alexithymia-aggression link. In particular, specific dimensions of the emotion dysregulation (i.e., Negative Urgency) and impulsivity constructs (i.e., cognitive and motor impulsivity) played a unique role in explaining these associations. Finally, controlling for depressive symptoms reduced some of the findings involving impulsivity to nonsignificant results. Overall, our findings add to the extant literature attesting to the relevance of alexithymia and emotion dysregulation for understanding aggression, and providing concrete recommendation for the treatment and prevention of aggressive tendencies.

KEYWORDS:

Aggression; Alexithymia; Emotion dysregulation; Impulsivity; Psychopathology

PMID:
26803364
DOI:
10.1016/j.psychres.2016.01.025
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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