An exploration of the role of Alexithymia in the development of psychogenic voice disorders

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Foley, Emer
Issue Date
Higher Diploma in Arts in Counselling and Psychotherapy
Dublin Business School
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"Alexithymia” is a condition characterized by difficulties in identifying a person's own emotions, differentiating between emotional and physical arousal, and describing one’s emotions to other people (Bagby & Taylor, 1997). Alexithymia is inversely related to mentalization and is associated with emotional trauma, both of which are thought to influence the capacity to regulate affects induced by stressful events (Taylor, 2010). Alexithymia has been implicated in a wide range of medical and psychiatric illness, (Vanheule, Desmet, Bogaerts, & Meganck, 2007, Taylor & Bagby, 2004), while a number of studies have linked the construct with psychogenic voice disorder (PVD). This paper will provide an overview of both alexithymia and PVD, reviewing the available literature in order to help clarify how alexithymia might play a role in the development of PVDs. Various models of symptom formation will be discussed, and the therapeutic implications for the individual with PVD will be examined. Author keywords: Alexithymia, voice disorders, emotional awareness, functional symptoms