Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN 1387-6740
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9935
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Alexithymia encompasses difficulties in identifying and expressing feelings along with an externally oriented cognitive style. While previous studies found that higher alexithymia scores were related to an impaired memory for emotional content, no study so far investigated how alexithymia affects autobiographical narratives. Narrating personal events, however, is impaired in emotionally disturbed patients in that they tend to recall overgeneral descriptions instead of specific episodes, which impairs their narrative emotional processing. Adopting a qualitative approach, this pilot study explored autobiographical memory specificity, cognitive, perceptual and emotional word use, and narrative closure in eight alcohol-dependent participants scoring very high or low in alexithymia. High alexithymia participants showed no reduced memory specificity but impaired emotional processing and narrative elaboration, especially when talking about negative events. Presumably because of this we found no group differences regarding narrative closure. Results are discussed in terms of cognitive and emotional processing, avoidance strategies, and narrative psychology.


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