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Understanding the Dimensional Nature of Alexithymia

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In this paper, I explore how best to conceptualize the nature of alexithymia. I argue that the condition is best understood as a dimensional construct; as such, it is likely that there exist various degrees of alexithymia. Moreover, I explore the merits of two analogies that others have used to try to understand the nature of alexithymia: one characterizes the condition as an analogue of associative visual object agnosia, and the other characterizes it as the emotional equivalent of blindsight. I argue that the analogy with blindsight more adequately portrays the processing deficit involved in mild alexithymia, but that neither the analogy with blindsight nor the analogy with associative visual object agnosia is able to account for the deficit involved in severe alexithymia. Instead, I argue that the deficit involved in severe alexithymia is best understood through an analogy with apperceptive visual agnosia.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: January 1, 2013

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