Attachment security and alexithymia in a heavy drinking sample

Fred Arne Thorberg*, Ross McDonald Young, Karen A. Sullivan, Michael Lyvers, Cameron P. Hurst, Jason P. Connor, Gerald F X Feeney

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

28 Citations (Scopus)


Attachment difficulties have been proposed as a key risk factor for the development of alexithymia, a multifaceted personality trait characterised by difficulties identifying and describing feelings, a lack of imagination and an externally oriented thinking style. This study investigated the relationship between attachment and alexithymia in an alcohol-dependent population. Participants were 210 outpatients in a Cognitive Behavioural Treatment programme assessed on the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the Revised Adult Attachment Scale. Significant relationships between anxious attachment and alexithymia factors were confirmed. Furthermore, alexithymic alcoholics reported significantly higher levels of anxious attachment and significantly lower levels of closeness (secure attachment) compared to non-alexithymic alcoholics. These findings highlight the importance of assessing and targeting anxious attachment among alexithymic alcoholics in order to improve alcohol treatment outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)566-570
Number of pages5
JournalAddiction Research and Theory
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2011


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