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Alexithymia in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Clinical Correlates and Symptom Dimensions

Roh, Daeyoung MD*; Kim, Woo-Jung MD*; Kim, Chan-Hyung MD, PhD*†

The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease: September 2011 - Volume 199 - Issue 9 - p 690-695
doi: 10.1097/NMD.0b013e318229d209
Original Articles

Previous studies have indicated that obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is associated with alexithymic traits. The purpose of the current study was to evaluate the difference of alexithymia in OCD patients and healthy controls. This study was also designed to elucidate a specific link between certain OCD symptom dimensions and alexithymia. Forty-five patients with OCD and 45 healthy controls completed measures of the OCD symptom severity, alexithymia, anxiety, and depression. Patients with OCD had significantly higher scores of alexithymia than did the healthy controls. Multiple regression analysis revealed that age at onset and the level of anxiety were significantly associated with alexithymia. "Sexual/religious obsessions" was the only symptom dimension that showed a positive association with alexithymia in OCD patients. These findings suggest that OCD patients with a high level of anxiety and an early age of onset may have greater alexithymic tendency. We also found the first evidence for a specific link between sexual/religious obsessions and alexithymia in patients with OCD.

*Department of Psychiatry, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea and †Institute of Behavioral Science in Medicine, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Send reprint requests to Chan-Hyung Kim, MD, PhD, Department of Psychiatry, Severance Mental Health Hospital, Yonsei University College of Medicine, Tanbul-dong, 696-6, Gwanju-city, Gyunggido, Korea. E-mail:

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.