A meta-analytic study examining the relationship between alexithymia and dissociation in psychiatric and nonclinical populations

Sandra M Reyno, Maria Simmons, Jackie Kinley
Research in psychotherapy: psychopathology, process, and outcome 2020 May 20, 23 (1): 439
Alexithymia and dissociation have been consistently linked in the literature, particularly in psychiatric populations. Both arise from a disconnection between conscious aspects of self-experiences and perceptions at both the mental self and bodily levels. This results in difficulty integrating thoughts, feelings and experiences into consciousness and memory, negatively impacting emotion awareness/regulation and reflective functioning. We conducted a meta-analysis to examine the strength of the relationship between alexithymia and dissociation in both clinical and non-clinical populations. Studies using two common measures of these constructs were included ( i.e ., the Toronto Alexithymia Scale - TAS, and the Dissociative Experiences Scale - DES). Analyzing the effect sizes derived from 19 studies (including a total of 4664 participants) revealed moderate to strong relationships between alexithymia and dissociation. The strength of the association was higher in clinical and younger aged non clinical populations. These findings are discussed in the context of treatment recommendations..

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