Caractérisation de l’alexithymie chez les personnes atteintes de schizophrénie en début d'évolution

Authors: Ouellet, Rosalie
Advisor: Bégin, CatherineRoy, Marc-André
Abstract: This thesis proposes an effort to better characterize alexithymia in people with recent-onset schizophrenia (SZ) compared to non clinical controls through three major steps. The first step is to critically review the previous studies on alexithymia in SZ (n = 10) which, despite important conceptual variability and methodological caveats, highlight high severity of alexithymic features that are relatively independent from major SZ symptoms and associated to symptoms of general psychopathology, and that can be reliably measured with the TAS-20. The second step involves the comparison of two groups (SZ n = 33, Controls n = 31) regarding alexithymic features and the relationships between alexithymia, mentalizing and social cognition. It reveals that despite a higher severity of alexithymia and a mentalizing impairment in people with SZ, there is no association between both constructs in this group, thus infirming our hypothesis. However there is a significant negative association between them in the control group. The third step, as an attempt to find an alternative measure to the TAS-20 questionnaire in people who are known to show poor insight and emotional awareness, involves the study of psychometric properties of the Observer Alexithymia Scale (OAS) when it is rated by mental health professionals among people with SZ (n = 33). It shows that the OAS displays good psychometric properties in general, though it is moderately to strongly correlated to negative symptoms of SZ. This is an important limit to its use in this clinical population, at least when it is rated by a mental health professional. Results could be more accurate if the OAS was rated by a close relative, as suggested for future research. Overall, the results from the current thesis support the existence of important difficulties in emotion processing in people with SZ, principally characterized by the alexithymic feature “difficulty identifying emotions”, that are not related to mentalizing nor to symptoms but associated to a diminished social functioning. Some explanations, such as the specificity of alexithymia measures and the possible presence of a particular type of alexithymia in people with SZ, are proposed.
Document Type: Thèse de doctorat
Issue Date: 2011
Open Access Date: 17 April 2018
Grantor: Université Laval
Collection:Thèses et mémoires

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