A new conceptualization of alexithymia in the general adult population: implications for research involving older adults

Julie Diane Henry, Louise Helen Phillips, E. A. Maylor, Judith Ann Hosie, Alan Berkeley Milne, C. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

42 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: The purpose of this study is to test the validity of existing conceptualizations of the alexithymia concept, with particular reference to aging. Methods: Two hundred and forty-eight healthy adults completed measures of alexithymia and psychosocial functioning; younger and older adults (n=121) also completed a measure of emotional responsiveness. Results: Older adults engaged in less introspective thought traditionally thought to denote increased alexithymia. However, reduced introspection was associated with improved mental wellbeing, and, thus, could not be consumed as a deficit. Difficulty identifying and describing emotions did not differentiate older and younger adults, but were both associated with heightened depression, anxiety, and poor perceived quality of life. Conclusions: In clinical practice and research, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS) is almost exclusively used, with "total" score typically used to index alexithymia. As one of the subscales of the TAS measures reduced introspection, calculating total scores may not be appropriate and may particularly overestimate levels of alexithymia in older adulthood. (c) 2006 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-543
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Psychosomatic Research
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2006

Keywords

  • aging
  • alexithymia
  • TAS-20
  • EMOTION RECOGNITION
  • FACTORIAL VALIDITY
  • NEGATIVE AFFECT
  • SCALE
  • DEPRESSION
  • QUESTIONNAIRE
  • RELIABILITY
  • SOMATIZATION
  • VALIDATION
  • EXPRESSION

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