The stability of alexithymia during work in a high-stress environment: A prospective study of Swedish peacekeepers serving in Kosovo.
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Larsson, M. R., Bäckström, M., Michel, P.-O. & Lundh, L.-G. (2010). The stability of alexithymia during work in a high-stress environment: A prospective study of Swedish peacekeepers serving in Kosovo. Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. We applied a prospective design to reinvestigate the issue whether the sub-domains of alexithymia could be considered stable traits or distress-related states. Assessments of alexithymia and subjective distress were conducted before deployment to Kosovo in a sample of male peacekeepers. A second assessment was conducted approximately six months later during the final phase of service. The results showed evidence of moderate to high relative stability in all alexithymic sub-domains. It was also found that a relative change in subjective distress predicted a relative change in difficulty identifying feelings and difficulty describing feelings but not in externally oriented thinking. We suggest therefore that the alexithymic sub-domains could be considered relatively stable traits but that the level of difficulty identifying and describing feeling varies with the level of subjective distress.