Alexithymia and health in children

C.J. Rieffe, P. Oosterveld, M. Meerum Terwogt

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Alexithymia refers to a limited ability to identify and communicate one's feelings, which has been frequently associated with physical health complaints and negative moods. The many studies that have been conducted with adults have identified three core factors in alexithymia: Difficulty Identifying Feelings, Difficulty Describing Feelings and Externally-Oriented thinking. This three-factor structure of alexithymia was also identified in children of two age groups (740 children recruited from primary schools (mean age 11 years) and secondary schools (mean age 13 years)), although the factor Externally-Oriented Thinking showed low factor loadings and a low reliability. The predictive value of the questionnaire was also satisfactory. Consistent with the adult literature, the results showed that the factors Difficulty Identifying Feelings and Difficulty Describing Feelings contributed to the prediction of self-reported somatic complaints in children, but the factor Externally-Oriented Thinking failed to do so. Directions for future research aiming at measuring alexithymia are discussed. © 2005 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-133
Number of pages11
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Publication statusPublished - 2006


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