Alexithymia from the Social Neuroscience Perspective

Sylvie Berthoz, Lydia Pouga and Michele Wessa

in The Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience

Published in print September 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342161
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 Alexithymia from the Social Neuroscience Perspective

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Social Psychology


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Alexithymia is a multifaceted personality construct characterized by the impaired ability to reflect on and regulate one’s own emotions. This chapter refers to a wide range of domains of investigation in the field of social neuroscience to capture and specify the processes that could account for the observed associations between such an inability to monitor and self-regulate emotions and altered social understanding and interactions. To this end, it provides empirical support for considering alexithymia as a relevant model to investigate the links between brain, cognition and behavior, notably not only to delineate potential pathways between dysfunctional cerebral circuits, poor emotional insight, and intersubjectivity, but also to further explore their links with self-oriented and other-oriented harming behaviors.

Keywords: alexithymia; psychosomatic disorders; psychopathy; autism spectrum disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder; empathy; interpersonal functioning; emotional awareness; emotion regulation; medial prefrontal cortex; anterior cingulate cortex; amygdala; insul

Article.  18144 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience ; Social Psychology

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