Alexithymia, Emotional Awareness and Perceived Dysfunctional Parental Behaviors in Heroin Dependents

  • Marco Vicente TorradoEmail author
  • Sílvia Soares Ouakinin
  • Leonor Bacelar-Nicolau


The aim of this study was to analyse alexithymia and deficits in emotional awareness, in heroin addicts, and their relationship with perceptions of early parental interactions. The sample included 99 opiate dependent outpatients and 43 healthy controls. Assessment was performed using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale, the Inventory for Assessing Memories of Parental Rearing Behavior, the Mini-Mental State Examination and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Findings suggest parental representations, which were mostly characterized by emotional unavailability and a rejection interaction pattern, significantly related to alexithymia. Emotional awareness was associated with the number of years of drug use and methadone level. Negative affect was associated with alexithymia but not to emotional awareness. Regression analyses emphasized the influence of perceived dysfunctional parenting behaviors in alexithymia and difficulties in identifying feelings, particularly an interaction with paternal rejection, moderated by self-reported anxiety. These results are discussed addressing comprehensive issues of emotion regulation and treatment strategies in heroin dependence.


Alexithymia Emotional awareness Parental rearing behaviors Heroin dependence Negative affect 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Vicente Torrado
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sílvia Soares Ouakinin
    • 1
  • Leonor Bacelar-Nicolau
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology, University Clinic of Psychiatry - Faculty of MedicineUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal
  2. 2.Institute of Preventive Medicine, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of LisbonLisbonPortugal

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