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J Psychosom Res. 1994 Aug;38(6):529-38.

Alexithymia and somatization: relationship to DSM-III-R diagnoses.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Vienna, Austria.


In previous studies, results from psychometric measures suggested an association between alexithymia and somatization. However, alexithymia has not been examined in relation to somatoform disorders and other standard psychiatric diagnoses. In the present study, the prevalence of DSM-III-R diagnoses was determined by SCID interviews among 45 psychiatric inpatients with functional somatic syndromes. In addition, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) and the SCL-90-R were administered. Of the sample, 42.2% scored in the alexithymic range of the TAS. The alexithymic patients presented significantly more psychological turmoil and overall psychopathology on the SCL-90-R, as well as a significantly higher number of current DSM-III-R diagnoses. However, alexithymia was unrelated to DSM-III-R somatoform disorders and other DSM-III-R diagnoses, as well as the course of illness. These results suggest that assessing clinical features in addition to psychometric measures seems to be necessary for further validating the potential role of the alexithymia construct in somatic symptom formation.

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