Childhood maltreatment could cause alexithymia in adults – study

people who have experienced childhood abuse People are more likely to develop alexithymia in adulthood, according to a new study published this month.

peer-reviewed studiespublished in the journal Psychological BulletinSeeks to understand the long-term social and emotional impact of experiencing childhood abuse.

What is ‘Alexithymia’?

Alexithymia is a personality trait that used to be considered a disorder, which prevents individuals from being able to identify the way they are feeling.

People with this trait may also find that they feel physical discomfort when they are emotional but cannot identify the source of the discomfort.

People with alexithymia are likely to struggle in social situations, as they often miss social cues or struggle to recognize or understand other people’s and their own emotions.

Israeli children wearing school bags. (Credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“One in four children worldwide are abused, but often go unrecognized,” said Julia Dietzer, lead author of the study.

10% of the general population have clinically relevant levels of alexithymia. This is much more pronounced in men with a rate of 17% compared to a female rate of 10%.

Alexithymia has been associated with several other conditions such as autism, depression, and schizophrenia.

Long-Term Effects of Experiencing Abuse in Childhood

“Our findings showed that childhood emotional abuse as well as emotional and physical neglect were the strongest predictors of adult alexithymia,” the researchers write in their study.

“We can now say with more confidence that these phenomena — child abuse and alexithymia — are substantially related to each other,” said Anat Talmon, senior co-author of the study.

In the United States, 656,000 children experienced abuse in 2019. Internationally, it is believed that 1 in 4 children experience abuse.

The researchers identified five types of childhood abuse, drawing differences between abuse and neglect, although they did not have the same likelihood of preventing an adult with alexithymia.

The types of abuse were classified into emotional neglect, emotional abuse, physical neglect, physical abuse and Sexual Exploitation.

The researchers defined emotional neglect as failing to meet a child’s emotional needs such as security and comfort, while emotional abuse was defined as actively undermining children or making them responsible for adult problems. Was. Similarly, physical neglect was defined as failing to meet a child’s physical needs such as food, while physical abuse was defined as actively causing physical harm to a child.

Women who participated in the study were more likely to identify themselves as victims of emotional neglect and general alexithymia.

adults who experienced physical abuse and sexual abuse as children Those who had experienced alexithymia as adults were more likely than those who had suffered other abuse types.

“When someone is sexually or physically abused, he or she often knows to some degree that something is wrong,” Talmon explained. Talmon explained that neglect was harder to identify and, as a result, victims were less likely to seek help.

“Emotional neglect and emotional abuse are extremely devastating experiences for a child,” Talmon said. “No one is meeting your emotional needs, but you don’t have the ability to identify and identify with your own feelings, which increases your chances of developing alexithymia.”

It is important to note that not every child who experiences abuse will experience alexithymia. Children react to abuse and neglect in different ways. Some react aggressively, while others become aloof.

“These kids may say, ‘I don’t care. I’m just living,'” Talmon said. “They don’t know what they want because they don’t know what their inner voice is, and what their true desire is. .

The researchers defined dissociation as “a process in which a person separates from behaviors, thoughts, memories, and feelings.”