Attachment security and alexithymia in a heavy drinking sample

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Journal Article

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Thorberg, F. A., Young, R. M., Sullivan, K. A., Lyvers, M. F., Hurst, C., Connor, J. P. & Feeney, G. F. (2011). Attachment security and alexithymia in a heavy drinking sample. Addiction Research and Theory, 19 (6), 566-570.

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2011 HERDC submission. FoR code: 111708

© Copyright Informa UK Ltd., 2011




Attachment difficulties have been proposed as a key risk factor for the development of alexithymia, a multifaceted personality trait characterised by difficulties identifying and describing feelings, a lack of imagination and an externally oriented thinking style. This study investigated the relationship between attachment and alexithymia in an alcohol dependent population. Participants were 210 outpatients in a Cognitive Behavioural Treatment programme assessed on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the Revised Adult Attachment Scale. Significant relationships between anxious attachment and alexithymia factors were confirmed. Furthermore, alexithymic alcoholics reported significantly higher levels of anxious attachment and significantly lower levels of closeness (secure attachment) compared to non-alexithymic alcoholics. These findings highlight the importance of assessing and targeting anxious attachment among alexithymic alcoholics in order to improve alcohol treatment outcomes.

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This document has been peer reviewed.