Facial emotion recognition and alexithymia in adults with somatoform disorders

Francisco Pedrosa Gil, Nathan Ridout, Henrik Kessler, Michaela Neuffer, Claudia Schoechlin, Harald C. Traue, Marius Nickel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The primary aim of this study was to investigate facial emotion recognition (FER) in patients with somatoform disorders (SFD). Also of interest was the extent to which concurrent alexithymia contributed to any changes in emotion recognition accuracy. Twenty patients with SFD and 20 healthy, age, sex and education matched, controls were assessed with the Facially Expressed Emotion Labelling Test of FER and the 26-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale. Patients with SFD exhibited elevated alexithymia symptoms relative to healthy controls. Patients with SFD also recognized significantly fewer emotional expressions than did the healthy controls. However, the group difference in emotion recognition accuracy became nonsignificant once the influence of alexithymia was controlled for statistics. This suggests that the deficit in FER observed in the patients with SFD was most likely a consequence of concurrent alexithymia. It should be noted that neither depression nor anxiety was significantly related to emotion recognition accuracy, suggesting that these variables did not contribute the emotion recognition deficit. Impaired FER observed in the patients with SFD could plausibly have a negative influence on these individuals' social functioning.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2008


  • Alexithymia
  • Emotion recognition
  • Somatoform disorders


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