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© Borgis - New Medicine 3/2009, s. 51-52
*Ewa Ogłodek1, Danuta Mo?2, Aleksander Araszkiewicz1, Waldemar Placek3
Sense of alexithymia in a patient with vitiligo and paranoid schizophrenia
1Chair and Clinic of Psychiatry of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Poland
2Individual medical practice
3Chair and Clinic of Dermatology, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Immunodermatology of the Nicolaus Copernicus University, Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz, Poland
Summary
Aim.The behaviour contemporarily known as alexithymia was first described in detail by psychiatrists Peter E. Sifneos and John C. Nemiah. Over the past few decades the concept of alexithymia has been refined theoretically, and it is presently defined by the following features: (1) difficulty in identifying feelings and distinguishing between feelings and bodily sensations of emotional arousal; (2) difficulty in describing feelings to other people; (3) constricted imaginal processes, as evidenced by a paucity of fantasies; and (4) a stimulus-bound, externally oriented cognitive style.
The aim of the research was to evaluate the sense of alexithymia in a female patient with vitiligo and paranoid schizophrenia.
Material and Method. DSM-IV classification was used in the psychiatric examination of the patient in question and paranoid schizophrenia was diagnosed. This was followed by examining the patient by means of the shortened version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). The scale is characterized by high discrimination power, internal coherence and reliability.
Results. An analysis of the TAS-20 scale results revealed the highest value of the "difficulties identifying feelings” factor.
Conclusions. Sense of alexithymia may be a result of long-term stress which, in turn, leads to the development of vitiligo and paranoid schizophrenia.
Introduction
Sense of alexithymia is a term which was first proposed by Sifenos to describe disorders related to a patient´s expression and perception of his/her own feelings. Alexithymia is a concept that has been receiving increasing attention in psychosomatic research. The alexithymia construct involves „difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and difficulty in distinguishing between feelings and the bodily sensations of emotional arousal”. Limited abilities of a patient with vitiligo and sense of alexithymia to experience emotions cognitively lead to the patient´s concentration on somatic sensations. This is accompanied by emotional excitement and by poorly controlled compulsive reactions to negative stimulation. Sense of alexithymia in patients with paranoid schizophrenia and vitiligo is treated as a personality trait which, in combination with other features, predisposes a patient to emotional disturbances.
Vitiligo is a disease characterized clinically by the sudden appearance of sharply demarcated patches of milk white skin. This is a chronic, progressive disease in which depigmentation results in extreme alterations in appearance and intense psychological distress for the patient [1].
Aim
The aim of the research was to evaluate the sense of alexithymia in a female patient with vitiligo and paranoid schizophrenia.
MATERIAL AND Method
12 patients with schizophrenia and vitiligo were included in the study (average age 34.20 ± 5.3 years). The patients were under the care of the Chair and Clinic of Dermatology, Nicolaus Copernicus University Collegium Medicum in Bydgoszcz. A control group consisted of 12 mentally healthy persons (average age 34.20 ± 5.3 years). Both the study group and the control group included 6 men and 6 women.
Patients with paranoid schizophrenia and vitiligo were tested for sense of alexithymia by the shortened version of the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20). Patients in the control group were tested in the same way.
The Toronto Alexithymia Scale is a 20-item Likert scale to measure alexithymia. Items are rated using a 5-point Likert scale whereby 1 = strongly disagree and 5 = strongly agree. The TAS-20 uses cut-off scoring: equal to or less than 51 = non-alexithymia, equal to or greater than 61 = alexithymia. Scores of 52 to 60 = possible alexithymia.
The scale is characterized by high discrimination power, internal coherence and reliability.
Results

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Adres do korespondencji:
*Ewa Ogłodek
Department of Psychiatry, Nicolaus Copernicus University, Toruń,
Medical University of Bydgoszcz, Kurpińskiego Str. 19, Bydgoszcz, 85-096
tel.: 0-669-300-460
e-mail: maxeve@interia.pl

New Medicine 3/2009
Strona internetowa czasopisma New Medicine