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Attachment Security and Alexithymia in a Heavy Drinking Population

By Fred Thorberg, Ross McD. Young, Karen A. Sullivan, Michael Lyvers, Cameron P. Hurst, Jason Connor and Gerald F.X. Feeney


Attachment difficulties have been proposed as a key risk factor for the development of alexithymia, a multifaceted personality trait characterised by difficulties identifying and describing feelings, a lack of imagination and an externally oriented thinking style. The present study investigated the relationship between attachment and alexithymia in an alcohol dependent population. Participants were 210 outpatients in a Cognitive Behavioural Treatment Program assessed on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) and the Revised Adult Attachment Scale (RAAS). Significant relationships between anxious attachment and alexithymia factors were confirmed. Furthermore, alexithymic alcoholics reported significantly higher levels of anxious attachment and significantly lower levels of closeness (secure attachment) compared to non-alexithymic alcoholics. These findings highlight the importance of assessing and targeting anxious attachment among alexithymic alcoholics in order to improve alcohol treatment outcomes. Keywords: Attachment, alexithymia, alcohol dependence

Publisher: Informa Healthcare / Taylor & Francis
Year: 2011
DOI identifier: 10.3109/16066359.2011.580065
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