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Alexithymia: A challenge for mental health nursing practice

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Alexithymia, under-recognized and under-diagnosed, presents a significant challenge to mental health nurses. This article explores the alexithymia construct, and presents the view that better recognition of this trait will allow nursing intervention to be more specific and effective. The mental health nurses’ role is potentially the cornerstone of successful intervention with this group of complex patients, who do poorly when offered conventional, insight-orientated interventions. Standard psychotherapeutic treatments need to be modified in order to focus on increasing the ability to self-regulate affect, otherwise treatment may be both counterproductive and potentially damaging.
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Keywords: affect regulation; alexithymia; childhood adversity; immature defences; personality trait

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2001-12-01

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