Cognitive and emotional characteristics of alexithymia - A review of neurobiological studies
SourceJournal of Psychosomatic Research, 54, 6, (2003), pp. 533-542
Article / Letter to editor
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FSW_Institute for Gender Studies (IGS)
FSW_IGS Institute for Gender Studies
Journal of Psychosomatic Research
SubjectDynamics of gender
Objective: To review neurobiological studies of alexithymia in order to achieve a better understanding of the relationship between alexithymia and psychosomatic diseases and psychiatric illnesses. Methods: Neurobiological studies of alexithymia were reviewed with a special focus on how emotional and cognitive elements of alexithymia are reflected in earlier research. Results: Studies that have correlated alexithymia to corpus callosum dysfunctioning have mainly found impairments in cognitive characteristics of alexithymia, whereas from studies of right hemisphere and frontal lobe deficits, it may be concluded that both cognitive and emotional characteristics of alexithymia are impaired. Conclusion: The fact that there is no general agreement on how to define alexithymia seems to have hampered theoretical and empirical progress on the neurobiology of alexithymia and related psychosomatic diseases and psychiatric illnesses. Alexithymia should no longer be approached as one distinct categorical phenomenon and follow-up studies should monitor subjects according to both the cognitive and emotional characteristics of alexithymia.
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