Background: The study investigated the following hypotheses: (1) Alexithymia is significantly associated with dissociation. (2) Pathological versus nonpathological dissociation is associated with alexithymic traits. Methods: Psychiatric in- and outpatients (n = 173) and nonclinical subjects (n = 38) were investigated with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the FDS (German version of Dissociation Experience Scale) and the Symptom Check List (SCL-90-R; GSI). Correlation analyses followed by MANOVA and logistic regression were performed. Results: Significant correlations and partial correlations, controlling for GSI, were observed between dissociation and alexithymia. The MANOVA demonstrated significantly higher scores for the two TAS-20 dimensions ‘difficulty identifying feelings’ and ‘difficulty expressing feelings’ in the group with pathological dissociation. On the basis of the TAS-20 subscores, logistic regression analysis correctly classified 72.5% of the cases into the pathological and the nonpathological dissociation group. Conclusions: These results support our hypothesis that pathological traits of dissociation are highly associated with alexithymia. A model is discussed in which alexithymic characteristics may contribute to the development of pathological dissociation and stress-related disorders such as posttraumatic stress disorder.
Copyright © 2000 S. Karger AG, Basel