Nonverbal Behavior and Alexithymic Traits in Normal Subjects Individual Differences in Encoding Emotions

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The relationship between nonverbal behavior and emotional awareness, as measured by the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, was studied in 24 young volunteers free of medical and psychiatric disorders. Multiple regression analysis revealed that nonverbal behavior during psychiatric interview was a significant predictor of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale total score independent of situational depression and anxiety. Subjects who had difficulty identifying and describing their feelings showed a combination of poor nonverbal expressivity and frequent self-directed behavior patterns indicative of tension and anxiety. In addition, subjects with a tendency toward externally oriented thinking showed more avoidance behavior during the interview. The ethological data of this study support clinical observations, which suggest that alexithymic traits interfere with both processing of emotion and interpersonal behavior.

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