Objective: A developmental model of alexithymia in relation to alcohol-related risk was examined. Method: Validated indices of parental bonding, adult attachment, alexithymia, theory of mind (ToM), alcohol-related risk, and mood were administered to a nonclinical sample of 286 alcohol-using men and women.
Results: Hierarchical regression incorporating demographic and psychosocial variables accounted for 44% of the variance in alexithymia. Modeling indicated a significant path from dysfunctional maternal bonding to insecure adult attachment to alexithymia to risky drinking; a separate path indicated an indirect effect of alexithymia in association between the deficient ToM and risky drinking.
Conclusions: Findings were consistent with a developmental model where dysfunctional parental bonding in childhood manifests in adulthood as insecure attachment and alexithymia, the latter reflecting the insufficient acquisition of emotion regulation skills; alexithymia, in turn, increases the risk of problematic drinking as an emotion regulation strategy.