Special Issue "The Biopsychosocial Facets of Alexihymia and Its Role in Psychiatric, Psychosomatic, and Medical Illnesses"
A special issue of Brain Sciences (ISSN 2076-3425).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (20 May 2020).
Interests: emotions; alexithymia; affective dysregulation; suicide; psychopharmacology
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Interests: substance abuse; bipolar disorder; alexithymia; somatic complaints; mind–body connection; elderly; psychosomatics
Interests: neuroimaging; alexithymia; PTSD; affective disorders; eating disorders; schizophrenia; neurobiology; psychotherapy
Alexithymia is a personality trait in which the individual is unable to identify and describe their own emotions. The main feature of alexithymia is an emotional unawareness, lack of social attachment, and poor interpersonal relation. Furthermore, those suffering from alexithymia have difficulty recognizing and understanding the emotions of others.
Alexithymia means there are:
- Difficulties identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and bodily sensations.
- Difficulties describing feelings to other people.
- Reduced daydreaming and limited imagination and, therefore, little or no fantasies and limited dreams with a concrete style of thinking.
- A reduced empathy or ability to communicate inner states to others.
It has been demonstrated in several studies that often alexithymic individuals may show significantly higher levels of psychological distress than non-alexithymics and may develop “functional” somatic symptoms and psychiatric symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
Moreover, it has been suggested that alexithymic subjects may scarcely respond to both pharmacotherapy and psychotherapy. The characteristic attributes of alexithymic behavior are predominantly manifest in social interactions with high emotional significance. The affect-avoiding interpersonal pattern behavior showed by such subjects is often maladaptive and may elicit disorders and conflicts in important relationships, finally contributing the risk of the development of psychiatric symptoms such as depression or anxiety, thus increasing the risk of suicide.
Moreover, it has been demonstrated that alexithymia should be considered as a relatively stable personality trait, enhancing vulnerability to psychiatric symptoms, and is generally associated with higher risk of death for several causes (accidents, injury, or violence).
There is increasing evidence that alexithymia may be considered a risk factor for suicide, even simply increasing the risk of the development of depressive symptoms per se. This evidence comes from the results of several studies conducted on both the general population and clinical samples of patients with psychiatric disorders or medical conditions.
Therefore, the aim of the present Issue is to give an update on biopsychosocial aspects of alexithymia concerning several points of view (neurobiological, structural, functional, psychological aspects, etc.). Both theoretical and empirical papers are welcome, as well as reviews, mini-reviews, interesting case-reports, and commentaries. All areas concerning alexithymia may be welcomed, from neurobiological and imaging findings to psychopathological and psychological issues. In addition, review papers or original studies on psychosomatic diseases and somatic symptoms would be of great interest.
Prof. Domenico De Berardis
Dr. Alessandro Valchera
Dr. Federica Vellante
Manuscript Submission Information
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- affective dysregulation
- substance abuse
- mood disorders
- mind–body connection
- neurobiology and neuroimaging