Effects of meditation on alexithymia and social skills

Alexithymia is the inability to describe emotions in a verbal manner. Alexithymia is likely to be involved in the pain experience of cancer patients.

Researchers at the Universidad de Almería, in Spain, report their preliminary findings using meditation (mindfulness).

First, the details.

  • The abstract presents few details on study design.
  • We do know that meditation was compared to a control group.
  • We also know that students and not patients with alexithymia were studied.

And, the results.

  • The meditation program produced significant differences in alexithymia and in social skills.
    • There was a 20% improvement in the total score for alexithymia.
      • No significant changes were observed in the control group.
    • There was an increase in variable social skills ranging between 16% and 23%.
      • In the control group, changes ranged from 0% to 4%.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “These results should be confirmed with larger samples and patients with high alexithymia.”

Speaking of patients, researchers at IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza Hospital, in Bari, Italy studied 104 patients over 6 months to compare multicomponent psychological intervention to standard medical care.

Psychological intervention was associated with significant dramatic improvements in pain perception, alexithymia, and other psychological variables, while control patients showed an unexpected significant worsening of alexithymia, depression, and adjustment to disease.

Statistical analysis of the data revealed that psychological intervention and alexithymia were both independently associated with the reduction in pain perception.

These authors concluded that the results should be confirmed in another study. However, based on what we now know, they continue, clinicians should consider providing patients with psychological interventions that target alexithymic difficulties and help patients cope with both feelings and somatic perception.

8/1/10 22:22 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.