Alexithymia and sense of coherence in patients with total spinal cord transection



O'Carroll R, Ayling R, O'Reilly SM & North NT (2003) Alexithymia and sense of coherence in patients with total spinal cord transection. Psychosomatic Medicine, 65 (1), pp. 151-155.

OBJECTIVE: The study investigated the possibility that total spinal cord transection leading to tetraplegia would affect the ability to experience and identify emotions. It also examined whether the dispositional orientation of "sense of coherence2 contributed to self-rated quality of life after spinal cord transection. METHODS: Twenty patients with total spinal cord transection at the level of the sixth cervical vertebrae and 20 age- and sex-matched healthy control subjects completed measures of alexithymia, sense of coherence, and quality of life. RESULTS: There were no differences between the two groups on alexithymia scores. However, spinal injury patients reported significantly decreased quality of life relative to matched healthy control subjects. A strong sense of coherence was associated with better self-reported quality of life. This relationship remained after controlling for current affective status. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that 1) loss of afferent feedback to the brain via the spinal cord does not have a significant effect on alexithymia scores, particularly factor 1 (difficulty in identifying feelings), and 2) sense of coherence may be an important factor in determining psychological adjustment after serious injury.

sense of coherence; spinal cord injury; emotion; alexithymia

Psychosomatic Medicine: Volume 65, Issue 1

Publication date28/02/2003
PublisherAmerican Psychosomatic Society

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Professor Ronan O'Carroll
Professor Ronan O'Carroll

Professor, Psychology

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