Relationship between defense styles, alexithymia, and personality in alcohol-dependent inpatients
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In the present study, the defense styles were assessed in alcohol-dependent patients to verify whether they used less adaptive defense mechanisms compared with healthy controls and to evaluate if immature defense styles (IDSs) are related with alexithymia, while controlling the effect of age, temperament, and character on this relationship in male alcohol-dependent inpatients. Participants were consecutively admitted 118 male alcohol-dependent inpatients and 60 healthy controls. Patients were investigated with the Defense Style Questionnaire, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale, and the Temperament and Character Inventory. The alcohol-dependent patients were using neurotic defense style, some IDSs (projection, acting out, splitting, and somatization) more, and the mature defense style humor less than the control group. Together with higher age, IDS discriminated alcohol dependents from the control group (higher age, acting out, and splitting and lower humor in the second regression model). Immature defense style was positively correlated with novelty seeking, harm avoidance, self-transcendence, difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF), difficulty in describing feelings, external oriented thinking, and total alexithymia score in the present study, whereas it was negatively correlated with self-directedness and cooperativeness. Mean scores of neurotic and IDS were higher in the alexithymic group than the nonalexithymic group, and alexithymia was correlated with some IDSs. Higher difficulty in describing feelings predicted mature defense style, higher harm avoidance and DIF predicted neurotic defense style, and lower cooperativeness and self-transcendence and higher DIF predicted IDS. These suggest that alcohol dependents are using maladaptive IDS more, which can be taken into account in the development of therapeutic programs for these patients. In addition, IDS seems to be related with alexithymia, particularly DIF factor, whereas low cooperativeness and high self-transcendence are significant covariants. Thus, these results could indicate the use of specific strategies in the clinical and psychotherapeutic management of patients with alexithymic feature and IDS. (C) 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.