Cognitive Alexithymia Is Associated with the Degree of Risk for Psychosis

Jorien van der Velde*, Marte Swart, Sophie van Rijn, Lisette van der Meer, Lex Wunderink, Durk Wiersma, Lydia Krabbendam, Richard Bruggeman, Andre Aleman

*Bijbehorende auteur voor dit werk

OnderzoeksoutputAcademicpeer review

26 Citaten (Scopus)
324 Downloads (Pure)


Alexithymia is a personality construct denoting emotion processing problems. It has been suggested to encompass two dimensions: a cognitive and affective dimension. The cognitive dimension is characterized by difficulties in identifying, verbalizing and analyzing emotions, while the affective dimension reflects the level of emotional arousal and imagination. Alexithymia has been previously proposed as a risk factor for developing psychosis. More specifically, the two alexithymia dimensions might be differentially related to the vulnerability for psychosis. Therefore, we examined the two dimensions of alexithymia, measured with the BVAQ in 94 siblings of patients with schizophrenia, 52 subjects at ultra-high risk (UHR) for developing psychosis, 38 patients with schizophrenia and 109 healthy controls. The results revealed that siblings and patients had higher levels of cognitive alexithymia compared to controls. In addition, subjects at UHR for psychosis had even higher levels of cognitive alexithymia compared to the siblings. The levels of affective alexithymia in siblings and patients were equal to controls. However, UHR individuals had significantly lower levels of affective alexithymia (i.e. higher levels of emotional arousal and fantasizing) compared to controls. Alexithymia was further related to subclinical levels of negative and depressive symptoms. These findings indicate that alexithymia varies parametrically with the degree of risk for psychosis. More specifically, a type-II alexithymia pattern, with high levels of cognitive alexithymia and normal or low levels of affective alexithymia, might be a vulnerability factor for psychosis.

Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's13
TijdschriftPLoS ONE
Nummer van het tijdschrift6
StatusPublished - 1-jun.-2015

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