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Vol. 73, No. 2, 2004
Issue release date: March–April 2004
Psychother Psychosom 2004;73:68–77

New Trends in Alexithymia Research

Taylor G.J. · Bagby R.M.
aDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto and Mount Sinai Hospital, and bDepartment of Psychiatry, University of Toronto, and Center for Addiction and Mental Health, Clarke Site, Toronto, Canada

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Research investigating the alexithymia construct is advancing rapidly and has broadened considerably in recent years as a result of interdisciplinary efforts, new methodologies, and experimental techniques. New developments in the field include a shift from measurement-based validational studies to experimental investigations, which explore the relation between alexithymia and various aspects of emotional processing; the use of functional brain imaging techniques to explore neural activity associated with alexithymia; and experimental studies that measure multiple indices of physiological response to standardized emotion-inducing stimuli. Developmental research and attachment studies are providing ways for investigating potential etiological sources of the construct; and experimental approaches are being used to explore relations between alexithymia and other health-related personality constructs. In addition, longitudinal and treatment studies are clarifying the relation between alexithymia and psychopathology and the extent to which alexithymia predicts treatment outcome. Investigators need to embrace the new methods and techniques for the field of research to further increase understanding of the alexithymia construct and its association with physical and mental illness.

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