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Books, Journals, New Media
February 18, 1998

PsychiatryDisorders of Affect Regulation: Alexithymia in Medical and Psychiatric Illness

Author Affiliations

Harriet S.MeyerMD, Contributing EditorJonathan D.EldredgeMLS, PhD, Journal Review EditorRobertHoganMD, adviser for new media


Not Available

JAMA. 1998;279(7):555. doi:10.1001/jama.279.7.555

Whatever we learn from the broad pursuit of science must, in one way or another, pass through the gateway controlled by the brain matrix and be reduced to concepts that we can relate to on our own inner human terms, encountering paradoxes if we must.—Dr Frederick Seitz, The Science Matrix

Drs Graeme Taylor and Michael Bagby of the University of Toronto and James Parker of Trent University, Peterboro, Ontario, examine the psychopathological construct of alexithymia in patients, a mental state that represents "a cluster of deficits in the capacity to process emotions from the cognitive perspective, [which] reveals by its cognitive processing failure its healthy, intact counterpart in the normal individual and thereby helps us illuminate the unusual significance of emotional life for all of us." Alexithymia is a difficult and therefore underused conceptual framework, which can be helpful in understanding an extraordinarily refractory group of patients who have a limited ability to recognize, integrate, or express feelings. Historically associated with a wide-ranging group of common illness entities, alexithymic people are very familiar to most physicians and certainly every psychiatrist and include conditions ranging from flagrant substance abuse to subtle somatoform disorders.

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