[Parallel visual processing characteristics in healthy alexithymic subjects. Administration of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the parallel visual information test].Encephale. 1995 Sep-Oct; 21(5):589-95.E
Alexithymia is a concept created by Sifneos and characterized by an inability to find words to describe feelings or emotions. The phenomenon seems to be also related to a poverty of cognitive and symbolic processes (de Bonis, 1986). Alexithymia was first studied in psychosomatic disorders, then in several other somatic disorders as chronic bronchitis, chronic pain, obesity, abuse disorders. It also appears in non medically ill subjects. The french validation of the Toronto alexithymia Scale (TAS) in general population (n = 786) has shown 8.14% alexithymia frequency. The TAS is a 26-items self-report measure rated on a five-point likert scale. In the study we use the TAS and we refer to a visual test: the Parallel Visual Information Processing Test (PVIPT), involving the connexionist theory in the neuropsychological approach of alexithymia. The neuropsychological model is based on cerebral hemispheric specialization: emotions are localized in the right hemisphere and verbal expression depends on the left hemisphere in right-handed persons. The model posits that alexithymia is related to a lack of connection between the two cerebral hemispheres. It explains the deficit to verbally articulate emotions. The aim of our study is to compare the quality of cognitive and symbolic process (PVIPT) in alexithymic and non alexithymic subjects in general population. 773 students are tested with the TAS. We find 47 alexithymic subjects (6.08%). 22 alexithymic subjects and the control group (35 non alexithymic subjects) are evaluated with the PVIPT. Results are coherent with our previous studies on alexithymia in somatic disorders on one hand and alexithymia in neurological disease on the other hand. Theorical model, clinical observation and experimental results tend to define congruent hypothesis relative to the anxious pathology, supporting the reflexion and the research in the domain of the emotional disorders.