• alcohol dependence;
  • alexithymia;
  • character;
  • post-traumatic stress disorder;
  • temperament

Aims:  The purpose of the present study was to evaluate the prevalence of lifetime post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in male alcohol-dependent inpatients and to investigate the relationship of PTSD with alexithymia and temperament and character dimensions.

Methods:  Participants were 156 consecutively admitted male alcohol-dependent subjects. Patients were investigated using the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS), the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI).

Results:  Among alcohol-dependent inpatients 32.1% were considered as having lifetime PTSD. Mean scores of alexithymia, novelty seeking (NS), harm avoidance (HA) and self-transcendence (ST) were higher in the PTSD group, whereas age and self-directedness (S) were lower. Among age and other factors of TAS-20, ‘difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF)’ predicted PTSD in a logistic regression model. When age and personality dimensions of TCI were taken as independent variables, S predicted PTSD in the logistic regression model. Finally, among subscales of TCI, ‘impulsiveness versus reflection’ (NS2) and ‘congruent second nature versus bad habits’ (S5) predicted PTSD.

Conclusions:  Alexithymia and personality traits, particularly high DIF and S scores are related with lifetime PTSD diagnosis, even when controlling for age among alcohol-dependent inpatients. Causal relationships between alexithymia, personality dimensions and PTSD, and their implications on treatment are not clear and should be evaluated in longitudinal studies.