On the nexus of chronic pain, posttraumatic stress, and alexithymia

Nakieta Lankster

Psychologist, Psy D, USA

Received Date: 2022-02-05 | Accepted Date: 2022-02-12 | Published Date: 2022-02-18
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Individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) often exhibit deficits in emotional experience and expression, which suggests that certain individuals with PTSD may be alexithymic. In this study, in a sample of 105 individuals with PTSD, clinical correlates of alexithymia included re-experiencing, hyper arousal, numbing, dissociative symptoms, and retrospectively reported experiences of childhood emotional neglect. In a subsample of 26 individuals with PTSD related to a motor vehicle accident, functional neural responses to trauma-script imagery were associated with severity of alexithymia, including increased right posterior-insula and ventral posterior-cingulate activation and decreased bilateral ventral anterior-cingulate, ventromedial prefrontal, anterior-insula, and right inferior frontal cortex activation. Clinical and theoretical implications and future research directions are discussed.

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