Journal Mobile Options
Table of Contents
Vol. 70, No. 5, 2001
Issue release date: September–October 2001
Psychother Psychosom 2001;70:261–267

Alexithymia and the Temperament and Character Model of Personality

Grabe H.J. · Spitzer C. · Freyberger H.J.
Department of Psychiatry, Ernst Moritz Arndt University of Greifswald, Klinikum der Hansestadt Stralsund, Germany

Individual Users: Register with Karger Login Information

Please create your User ID & Password

Contact Information

I have read the Karger Terms and Conditions and agree.

To view the fulltext, please log in

To view the pdf, please log in


Objective: In our study we explored the associations between alexithymia (Toronto Alexithymia Scale 20, TAS-20) and the dimensions and subscales of Cloninger’s theoretically based and empirically validated psychobiological model of personality to further clarify the relationship between alexithymia and personality traits. Methods: Psychiatric in- and outpatients (n = 254) were investigated with the TAS-20, the Temperament and Character Inventory (TCI) and the Symptom Check List SCL-90-R to control for the severity of current psychopathology. Correlation and regression analyses were performed. Results: The regression analysis identified the TCI dimensions low self-directedness (SD), low reward dependence (RD) and to a minor degree harm avoidance (HA) as independent predictors for alexithymia. At the level of subscales, interpersonal detachment (RD3), low resourcefulness (SD3), low responsibility and blaming (SD1) and shyness with strangers (HA3) were predictors for alexithymia. The degree of explained variance of the TAS-20 scores by the TCI dimensions and subscales ranged between 43 and 45% whereas the inclusion of the general severity index into the regression models accounted for an additional 5% of the variance. Conclusions: Alexithymia is best explained by a mixture across different dimensions and subscales within Cloninger’s psychobiological model of personality. However, alexithymia is captured only partly by current concepts of personality, and additional contributing psychological and biological factors need to be identified to understand alexithymia more extensively.

Copyright / Drug Dosage

Copyright: All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be translated into other languages, reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, microcopying, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher or, in the case of photocopying, direct payment of a specified fee to the Copyright Clearance Center.
Drug Dosage: The authors and the publisher have exerted every effort to ensure that drug selection and dosage set forth in this text are in accord with current recommendations and practice at the time of publication. However, in view of ongoing research, changes in goverment regulations, and the constant flow of information relating to drug therapy and drug reactions, the reader is urged to check the package insert for each drug for any changes in indications and dosage and for added warnings and precautions. This is particularly important when the recommended agent is a new and/or infrequently employed drug.
Disclaimer: The statements, opinions and data contained in this publication are solely those of the individual authors and contributors and not of the publishers and the editor(s). The appearance of advertisements or/and product references in the publication is not a warranty, endorsement, or approval of the products or services advertised or of their effectiveness, quality or safety. The publisher and the editor(s) disclaim responsibility for any injury to persons or property resulting from any ideas, methods, instructions or products referred to in the content or advertisements.


  1. Marty P, de M’Uzan M: Das operative Denken (Pensée opératoire). Psyche (Stuttgart) 1978;32:974–984.
  2. Nemiah JC, Freyberger H, Sifneos PE: Alexithymia: A view of the psychosomatic process; in Hill OW (ed): Modern trends in psychosomatic medicine. London, Butterworth, 1976,vol 3, pp 430–439.
  3. Sifneos PE: Alexithymia, clinical issues, politics and crime. Psychother Psychosom 2000;69:113–116.
  4. Bermond B, Vorst HCM, Vingerhoets AJJM, Gerritsen W: The Amsterdam Alexithymia Scale, Psychother Psychosom 1999;68:241–251.
  5. Naatanen P, Ryynanem A, Keltikangas-Jarvinen L: The influence of alexithymia characteristics on the self-perception and facial expression of physiological stress state. Psychother Psychosom 1999;68:252–262.
  6. Porcelli P, Taylor GJ, Bagby RM, De Carne M: Alexithymia and functional gastrointestinal disorders. Psychother Psychosom 1999;68:263–269.
  7. Honkalampi K, Saarinen P, Hintika J, Virtanen V, Viinamaki H: Factors associated with alexithymia in patients suffering from depression. Psychother Psychosom 1999;68:270–276.
  8. Beresnevaite M: Exploring the benefits of group psychotherapy in reducing alexithymia in coronary heart disease patients. Psychother Psychosom 2000;69:117–122.
  9. Wise TN, Mann LS, Sheridan MJ: Relationship between alexithymia, dissociation and personality in psychiatric outpatients. Psychother Psychosom 2000;69:123–127.
  10. Wise TN, Mann LS, Epstein S: Ego defensive styles and alexithymia: A discriminant validation study. Psychother Psychosom 1991;56:141–145.
  11. Kooiman CG, Spinhoven P, Trijsburg RW, Rooijmans HG: Perceived parental attitude, alexithymia and defense style in psychiatric outpatients. Psychother Psychosom 1998;67:81–87.
  12. Parker JD, Taylor GJ, Bagby RM: Alexithymia: Relationship with ego defense and coping styles. Compr Psychiatry 1998;39:91–98.
  13. Zlotnick C, Shea MT, Pearlstein T, Simpson E, Costello E, Begin A: The relationship between dissociative symptoms, alexithymia, impulsivity, sexual abuse and self-mutilation. Compr Psychiatr 1996;37:12–16.
  14. Grabe H-J, Rainermann S, Spitzer C, Gänsicke M, Freyberger HJ: The relationship between dimensions of alexithymia and dissociation. Psychother Psychosom 2000;69:128–131.
  15. Wise TN, Mann LS, Shay L: Alexithymia and the five-factor model of personality. Compr Psychiatry 1992;33:147–151.
  16. Taylor GJ: Alexithymia: Concept, measurement, and implication for treatment. Am J Psychiatry 1984;141:725–732.
  17. Bagby RM, Taylor GJ, Ryan D: Toronto Alexithymia Scale: Relationship with personality and psychopathology measures. Psychother Psychosom 1986;45:207–215.
  18. Bagby RM, Taylor GJ, Parker JDA: The twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. II. Convergent, discriminant and concurrent validity. J Psychosom Res 1994;38:33–40.
  19. Luminet O, Bagby RM, Wagner H, Taylor GJ, Parker JD: Relation between alexithymia and the five-factor model of personality: A facet-level analysis. J Pers Assess 1999;73:345–358.
  20. Jackson DN: The Basic Personality Inventory. London, Ont, Research Psychologist Press, 1974.
  21. Costa PT, McCrae RR: The NEO Personality Inventory Manual. Odessa, Psychological Assessment Resources, 1985.
  22. Costa PT, McCrae RR: Revised NEO Personality Inventory (NEO-PI-R) and NEO Five-Factor Inventory (NEO-FFI) Professional Manual. Odessa, Psychological Assessment Resources, 1992.
  23. Taylor GJ, Ryan D, Bagba RM: Toward the development of a new self-report alexithymia scale. Psychother Psychosom 1985;44:191–199.
  24. Bagby RM, Taylor GJ, Parker JD: The twenty-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. I. Item selection and cross-validation of the factor structure. J Psychosom Res 1994;38:23–32.
  25. Cloninger CR: A unified biosocial theory of personality and its role in the development of anxiety states. Psychiatr Dev 1986;3:167–226.
  26. Cloninger CR: A systematic method for clinical description and classification of personality variants: Arch Gen Psychiatry 1987;44:573–588.
  27. Cloninger CR, Svrakic DM, Przybeck TR: A psychobiological model of temperament and character. Arch Gen Psychiatry 1993;50:975–990.
  28. Heath AC, Cloninger CR, Martin NG: Testing a model for the genetic structure of personality: A comparison of the personality systems of Cloninger and Eysenck. J Pers Soc Psychol 1994;66:762–775.
  29. Stallings MC, Hewitt JK, Cloninger CR, Heath AC: Genetic and environmental structure of the Tridimensional Personality Questionnaire: Three or four temperament dimensions? J Pers Soc Psychol 1996;70:127–140.
  30. Krystal H: Integration and Self Healing: Affect, Trauma, Alexithymia. Hillsdale Analytic Press, 1988.
  31. American Psychiatric Association: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, ed 4 (DSM-IV). Washington, APA. 1994.
  32. Bach M, Bach D, De Zwaan M, Serim M, Böhmer F: Validierung der deutschen Version der 20-Item Toronto-Alexithymie-Skala bei Normalpersonen und psychiatrischen Patienten. Psychother Psychosom Med Psychol 1996;46:23–28.
  33. Richter J, Eisenmann M, Richter G, Cloninger CR: Das Temperament und Charakter Inventar (TCI): ein Leitfaden über seine Entwicklung und Anwendung. Frankfurt am Main, Swets Test Services, 1999.
  34. Franke G: Die Symptom-Checkliste von Derogatis – deutsche Version – Manual (SCL-90-R). Beltz, Weinheim, 1994.
  35. Taylor GJ, Bagby RM, Parker JDA: Disorders of Affect Regulation: Alexithymia in Medical and Psychiatric Illness. Cambridge. Cambridge University Press, 1999.
  36. Salminen JK, Saarijarvi S, Aairela E, Tamminen T: Alexithymia – State or trait? One year follow-up study of general hospital psychiatric consultation outpatients. J Psychosom Res 1994;38:681–685.
  37. Parker JD, Keightley ML, Smith CT, Taylor GJ: Interhemispheric transfer deficit in alexithymia: An experimental study. Psychosom Med 1999;61:464–468.

Pay-per-View Options
Direct payment This item at the regular price: USD 38.00
Payment from account With a Karger Pay-per-View account (down payment USD 150) you profit from a special rate for this and other single items.
This item at the discounted price: USD 26.50