Alexithymia, emotional empathy, and self-regulation in anorexia nervosa

Janelle N. Beadle, Sergio Paradiso, Alexandria Salerno, Laurie M. McCormick

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Individuals with anorexia nervosa (AN) who are starved have poor awareness (alexithymia), reduced understanding of others' mental states (cognitive empathy), and difficulty regulating personal emotions (self-regulation). Despite its important role in social interaction, sympathy for others (emotional empathy) has not been measured in AN. Furthermore, it is unknown how restoring weight affects the relationship among alexithymia, empathy, and self-regulation in AN. METHODS: Women with AN were tested longitudinally during their starvation period (N = 26) and after weight was restored (N = 20) and compared with 16 age-matched healthy women. Alexithymia, empathy, and self-regulation were assessed with the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Interpersonal Reactivity Index, and items measuring self-regulation from the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory-2, respectively. RESULTS: Relative to comparison participants, individuals with AN during both starvation and weight restoration reported greater alexithymia and emotional empathy in one domain, personal distress (vicarious negative arousal to others' suffering). Among AN participants, personal distress was positively correlated with alexithymia and negatively correlated with self-regulation, when accounting for depression. CONCLUSIONS: High levels of alexithymia and personal distress may be persistent features of AN because they do not resolve upon weight restoration. Greater personal distress in AN may be a function of poor emotional awareness and regulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)107-120
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Clinical Psychiatry
Volume25
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2013

Fingerprint

Affective Symptoms
Anorexia Nervosa
Weights and Measures
Starvation
MMPI
Self-Control
Interpersonal Relations
Arousal
Psychological Stress
Emotions
Depression

Keywords

  • Alexithymia
  • Anorexia nervosa
  • Empathy
  • Selfregulation
  • Social cognition
  • Starvation
  • Weight effects

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

Cite this

Beadle, J. N., Paradiso, S., Salerno, A., & McCormick, L. M. (2013). Alexithymia, emotional empathy, and self-regulation in anorexia nervosa. Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, 25(2), 107-120.

Alexithymia, emotional empathy, and self-regulation in anorexia nervosa. / Beadle, Janelle N.; Paradiso, Sergio; Salerno, Alexandria; McCormick, Laurie M.

In: Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, Vol. 25, No. 2, 05.2013, p. 107-120.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Beadle, JN, Paradiso, S, Salerno, A & McCormick, LM 2013, 'Alexithymia, emotional empathy, and self-regulation in anorexia nervosa', Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, vol. 25, no. 2, pp. 107-120.
Beadle, Janelle N. ; Paradiso, Sergio ; Salerno, Alexandria ; McCormick, Laurie M. / Alexithymia, emotional empathy, and self-regulation in anorexia nervosa. In: Annals of Clinical Psychiatry. 2013 ; Vol. 25, No. 2. pp. 107-120.
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