2007 issue 3


Volume 16, issue 3

Original article

Alexithymia - a risk factor or a consequence of PTSD in female victims of domestic violence

Małgorzata Dąbkowska1
1. Katedra i Klinika Psychiatrii Collegium Medicum w Bydgoszczy Uniwersytetu Mikołaja Kopernika w Toruniu
Postępy Psychiatrii i Neurologii 2007; 16 (3): 221-227
Keywords: stress, domestic violence, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), alexithymia


Objectives. The aims of the study were, firstly, to assess the prevalence and severity of alexithymia and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms in female victims of domestic violence, and secondly, to examine correlation between alexithymia and PTSD severity in this group.
Method. Participants in the study were 30 women aged 17 to 55 years (mean age 37 years), living in hostels for domestic violence victims. They had experienced both physical violence and psychological abuse. The presence and severity of alexithymia were assessed using the 20-item self-rating Toronto Alexithymia Scale. For the PTSD diagnosis and severity evaluation the PTSD Interview (PTSD-I) by C.G. Watson et al. (1991) was used.
Results. In this group of domestic violence victims 53% had alexithymia or subclinical alexithymia, and 97% were found to suffer from PTSD symptoms. In as many as 70% of the victims PTSD severity was profound, very profound, or extreme. Higher scores on the alexithymia scale were correlated with higher PTSD severity.
Conclusions. The prevalence of alexithymia among domestic violence victims was higher than that in the general population. The intensity of alexithymia was correlated with PTSD symptoms severity.

Address for correspondence:
Dr Małgorzata Dąbkowska
Katedra i Klinika Psychiatrii Collegium Medicum
ul. Kurpińskiego 19, 85-096 Bydgoszcz
tel. (52) 5854256
e-mail: gosiadabkowska@yahoo.com