Alexithymia affects understanding of emotional expressions.

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ebhat
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25 Jun 2013, 11:29 am

Hi. I believe that autism and alexithymia can be identified within the same individual and also in isolation. In the case that someone with ASD is also highly alexithymic, it is sometimes possible to unpick the contribution each condition/trait makes to behaviours or attitudes.

This paper from 2010 is a very good example of how this cane be done:

"Empathic brain responses in insula are modulated by levels of alexithymia but not autism" - I can't post a direct link because I'm too new, or something. But you can google it. It might be paywalled, I don't know. The gist is that empathetic responding in ASD is mediated by level of alexithymia, and not by severity of ASD symptoms.



whirlingmind
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25 Jun 2013, 11:38 am

I scored only 8 on the EQ which means I am very unempathic but I scored 64 on the Toronto alexithymia scale which isn't high considering equal to or greater than 61 is alexithymic. So I am puzzled as to how they correlate.


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ebhat
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25 Jun 2013, 11:44 am

The total score on the TAS-20 is made up of three subscale scores. Each subscale has a different number of items. The scale with the largest number of items, and so the largest impact on your overall score is the "externally orientated thinking" subscale, which doesn't have much to do with identifying and describing emotions, which is the aspect of alexithymia which I imagine correlates most with empathy deficit.



Scia
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25 Jun 2013, 10:17 pm

For some reason, the second quiz wouldn't automatically tally my results, so I did them myself.

I got a 140.



Anomiel
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26 Jun 2013, 4:37 am

ebhat wrote:
Hi. I believe that autism and alexithymia can be identified within the same individual and also in isolation. In the case that someone with ASD is also highly alexithymic, it is sometimes possible to unpick the contribution each condition/trait makes to behaviours or attitudes.

This paper from 2010 is a very good example of how this cane be done:

"Empathic brain responses in insula are modulated by levels of alexithymia but not autism" - I can't post a direct link because I'm too new, or something. But you can google it. It might be paywalled, I don't know. The gist is that empathetic responding in ASD is mediated by level of alexithymia, and not by severity of ASD symptoms.


It's open access, thanks for pointing us in that direction :D http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/133/5/1515
It's a fascinating read.



Anomiel
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26 Jun 2013, 4:40 am

whirlingmind wrote:
I score highly on the reading the mind in the eyes test but I still score for having alexithymia.


They talk about that in the paper ebhat mentioned:
http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/content/133/5/1515.full wrote:
The claim of a global empathy deficit in autism spectrum conditions does not always reflect, however, the more detailed distinction made between our capacities to mentalize and to empathize. For example, a test widely used in autism research as a marker for empathy is the ‘reading the mind in the eyes test’ (Baron-Cohen et al., 1996, 1997, 2001). However, this test does not directly assess emotional responses as it requires one to infer the expressed mental state from the eye region of emotional facial expressions, but does not directly measure the vicarious emotional response elicited by the expression.



PunitShah
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26 Jun 2013, 5:26 am

Hi all,

I am one of the authors on the paper which kicked off this discussion. It is always great to hear about what people think of the research. It was really interesting reading your ideas, and in particular, thanks Anomiel for summarising the findings (probably far better than I could have).

In case anyone is having issues accessing the articles discussed, please Google "Geoff Bird Lab papers" (I cannot post links as I am new to the forum- sorry). You should be able to find them all there. In particular, have a look at this paper my supervisors have just written:

Bird, G., & Cook, R. (in press). Mixed emotions: The contribution of alexithymia to the emotional symptoms of autism.

I would be interested to hear more about what everyone thinks about the link between autism and alexithymia.

Punit



marshall
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26 Jun 2013, 12:16 pm

PunitShah wrote:
Hi all,

I am one of the authors on the paper which kicked off this discussion. It is always great to hear about what people think of the research. It was really interesting reading your ideas, and in particular, thanks Anomiel for summarising the findings (probably far better than I could have).

In case anyone is having issues accessing the articles discussed, please Google "Geoff Bird Lab papers" (I cannot post links as I am new to the forum- sorry). You should be able to find them all there. In particular, have a look at this paper my supervisors have just written:

Bird, G., & Cook, R. (in press). Mixed emotions: The contribution of alexithymia to the emotional symptoms of autism.

I would be interested to hear more about what everyone thinks about the link between autism and alexithymia.

Punit


I read the paper. Thank you for sharing! I actually had this hypothesis myself. I'm definitely on the autism spectrum but I think I'm pretty keenly aware when it comes to noticing non-verbal cues in real life. I find it more of a hindrance than an asset though. Rather than not noticing I've always exaggerate the importance of small negative signals.



eric76
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09 Oct 2013, 9:33 pm

I don't know if it was alexithymia, but I could tell my oldest brothers wife was upset the other night by the sound of her voice, but couldn't tell anything was upsetting her by looking at her.