Childhood Trauma and Alexithymia among Patients with Conversion Disorder

Author: Anum Farooq

Supervisor: Aasma Yousuf

Degree: BS

Year: 2009-2013

University: Centre for Clinical Psychology, Punjab University, Lahore, Pakistan


The present study aims to ascertain the relationship between childhood trauma and alexithymia among patients with conversion disorder. It was hypothesized that there would be a relationship between childhood trauma (physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect) and alexithymia subscales (verbalizing emotions, identifying emotions, fantasizing, emotionalizing and analyzing emotions). Moreover, childhood trauma and its domains (physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect) would be the predictors of alexithymia among patients with conversion disorder. Sample comprised of 80 women with conversion disorder, within the age range of 18 to 40 years, were recruited from Government hospitals of Lahore through purposive sampling technique. DSM IV- TR diagnostic criteria for Conversion disorder, Childhood Abuse Interview(CAI: physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect) and Bermond Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ: difficulty in identifying emotions, difficulty in verbalizing emotions, difficulty in emotionalizing, difficulty in fantasizing, difficulty in analyzing emotions) were administered respectively. Pearson Product Moment Correlation Coefficient revealed that childhood trauma (physical, emotional, sexual abuse and neglect) had a significant positive relationship with alexithymia (r = .27, p < .05), while difficulty in identifying emotions and difficulty in fantasizing were found to be significantly positively related with childhood trauma. On the other hand, regression analysis revealed childhood neglect as a predictor of alexithymia in patients with conversion disorder (r =.23, p < .05). The study contributes to therapists’ understanding of the abuse and development of alexithymia, which further contribute to management planning. Clinicians should be sensitive to the costs and benefits of abuse and neglect and shower parental awareness regarding child rearing practices.

Keywords: Childhood Trauma, Alexithymia, Conversion Disorder.

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