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Keywords:

  • alcohol dependence;
  • alexithymia;
  • anxiety;
  • dissociation

Aim:  The aim of the present study was to evaluate the relationship between alexithymia and dissociation among men with alcoholism.

Methods:  Participants were 176 patients consecutively admitted to the inpatient unit of a addiction treatment center. The Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Symptom Checklist-Revised, the Dissociative Experiences Scale, the Beck Depression Inventory, the Spielberger State–Trait Anxiety Inventory, and the Michigan Alcoholism Screening Test were administered to all participants.

Results:  Fifty-three patients were considered as having alexithymia. The alexithymic group had a significantly higher rate of dissociative taxon members (patients with pathological dissociation; 62.3%) according to Bayesian probability. Trait anxiety, overall psychiatric symptom severity, and pathological dissociation predicted alexithymia on covariance analysis. A multivariate analysis of covariance demonstrated that these predictors were related only to difficulty of identifying feelings, whereas trait anxiety was a significant covariant for difficulty of expressing feelings as well.

Conclusion:  Alexithymic phenomena are interrelated with dissociation and chronic anxiety among men with alcoholism. The relevance of this triad for prevention and treatment of alcoholism deserves interest in further research.