Examining addiction on the measures of personality and Alexithymia : a pilot study

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Boyle, Patricia M.
Issue Date
MA in Addiction Studies
Dublin Business School
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The aim of this study was to investigate the relationship between personality and addiction, using the Eysenck personality questionnaire (EPQ-R), and the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The use of these instruments marries Psychology and Psychoanalysis in the identification and treatment of addiction, bridging an age-old gap between the two paradigms on this common ground. It is argued that differences between a treatment population (n=26) and a control sample (n=83) would occur on these measures, and a pattern reflecting an overall addictive disposition would emerge. Obvious relationships were found. The first observations reflect significant differences between the groups on the EPQ-R measures of Neuroticism, Psychoticism, Social desirability and Addiction. Subsequent analysis reveals a strong association between high Alexithymia and Addiction scores, and a prevalence of Alexithymia in the treatment population overall. Theoretically, these findings are important as they establish a clear link between two observations that have been made separately in previous research, namely the effects of personality, and alexithymia, on addiction. In addition, results from the present study have important implications for the diagnosis of addiction, and for therapeutic intervention, in the sense that attention must be directed toward the person specifically and the underlying causes of their addictive behaviours for best practice to prevail. Finally, alexithymia can be of significance in differentiating sub-groups of addicted individuals who may require different treatment approaches, with the potential to improve retention rates and enhance the overall success of any given treatment.