Understanding alexithymia in female adolescents: the role of attachment style

Oskis, Andrea ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0194-2679, Clow, Angela, Hucklebridge, Frank, Bifulco, Antonia ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8316-9706, Jacobs, Catherine and Loveday, Catherine (2013) Understanding alexithymia in female adolescents: the role of attachment style. Personality and Individual Differences, 54 (1) . pp. 97-102. ISSN 0191-8869 [Article] (doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.08.023)


Adults with alexithymia retrospectively report emotional difficulties with caregivers during childhood. However, the association between attachment style and alexithymic traits may be evident at an earlier stage than adulthood, i.e. during adolescence. Sixty school-based healthy females aged 9–18 years (mean 14.08, SD 2.71 years) participated in an Attachment Style Interview (ASI) and completed the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Greater levels of alexithymia were exhibited by both anxious and avoidant insecurely attached groups compared to securely attached participants. Fear of separation (characteristic of anxious attachment style) predicted both overall alexithymia scores and the specific alexithymic trait of ‘difficulty identifying feelings’ (DIF). Constraints on closeness (an avoidant attachment attitude) predicted ‘difficulty describing feelings’ (DDF). Low felt attachment to primary caregiver was a predictor of ‘externally oriented thinking’ (EOT). These findings indicate that features of anxious and avoidant insecure attachment styles are differentially related to the separate facets of alexithymia in female adolescents. Specifically, the findings concerning fear of separation may reflect the adolescent struggle for autonomy and the resulting effects on the affect regulation system. Our results also suggest that the normative differentiation of the emotional and cognitive aspects of alexithymia may occur on a developmental trajectory.

Item Type: Article
Keywords (uncontrolled): Adolescence; Affect regulation; Alexithymia; Attachment; Bond; Interpersonal
Research Areas: A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology
A. > School of Science and Technology > Psychology > Centre for Abuse and Trauma Studies (CATS)
Item ID: 13208
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Depositing User: Users 3197 not found.
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2014 15:53
Last Modified: 09 Feb 2020 16:06
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/13208

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