Parental bonding, adult attachment, and theory of mind: A developmental model of alexithymia and alcohol-related risk

Michael Lyvers*, Kaitlin Mayer, Katarina Needham, Fred Arne Thorberg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1288-1304
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Issue number7
Early online date8 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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