Emotion Regulation and Mental Representation of Attachment in Patients With Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: A Study Using the Adult Attachment Interview

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Mental representations of attachment and emotion regulation influence individual patterns of stress response and vulnerability to illness. The present study investigates the adult attachment states of mind of 40 women with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) using the Adult Attachment Interview. We also assessed alexithymia using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and dissociation using the Dissociative Experiences Scale. The results showed a high prevalence of the unresolved state of mind (13 patients, 32.5%) and the entangled state of mind (10 patients, 25%). The alexithymia score also varied significantly as a function of the mental representation of attachment and was modulated by amnestic dissociation. These findings suggest that adult attachment in patients with SLE influences the presence of alexithymic features. Moreover, these also indicate that dissociative states mediate the perception of painful memories and feelings, thus contributing to the partial avoidance of emotions and the failure to fully experience and recognize them. The clinical implications of these findings are also discussed.

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