Theoretical and empirical exploration of the similarities between emotional numbing in posttraumatic stress disorder and alexithymia

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This study rationally and scientifically examines the similarities between the emotional numbing symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and alexithymia. A clinical database from the Iowa City Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center consisting of data from 274 combat veterans was used. Significant positive correlations were found between measures of PTSD, alexithymia, and combat exposure. Principal components analysis supported a lack of independence between PTSD subscales and alexithymia, as all variables loaded on one factor best labeled PTSD. This article presents both theoretical and empirical evidence suggesting that in traumatized persons, alexithymia may be better conceptualized as the emotional numbing aspect of PTSD rather than as a distinct construct.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)349-360
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Anxiety Disorders
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 6 2003


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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