What is alexithymia, and how does it relate to pain?

Alexithymia is a personality trait whereby the person has a diminished capacity to process emotions. These individuals may not have the ability to describe feelings with language. They may not recognize how they feel in response to experiences. They may attribute their response to external factors. Patients with this type of psychological organization are less competent in the identification of feelings and differentiation of feelings from body sensations. Alexithymia is not a mental disorder; however, it is a risk factor for medical and psychological conditions, including pain. Research has substantiated that many patients with pain also have alexithymic personality traits.


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