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Title: The association between alexithymia and somatization in the Lebanese population, and their correlation with different sociodemographic variables
Authors: Chaaya, Roni
Advisors: Alameddine, Abbas 
Keywords: alexithymia, somatization, somatic symptoms, identifying emotions, describing emotions, externally oriented thinking
Subjects: Somatization disorder--Etiology
Somatoform disorder--Lebanon
University of Balamand--Dissertations
Dissertations, Academic
Issue Date: 2023
In times of distress, emotional disturbances are likely to increase, hindering one’s ability to self-reflect. These emotional disturbances and dysregulation are shown to be associated to somatization and internalizing problems. Somatization is the expression of bodily symptoms in an augmented manner while erroneously attributing them to grave illnesses or disorders. This is usually associated with a restricted ability to understand one’s emotions or regulate them. This restricted ability to identify, describe and regulate one's emotions can be referred to as alexithymia. This research study aimed to study the relationship between alexithymia and somatization in the Lebanese population and identify the relationship between these two variables and a variety of sociodemographic variables, including: age, gender, educational level, relationship status, employment status, monthly salary, time spent on video gaming and the number of languages that the participants speak. Also, considering that the reliability of the validated Arabic versions of the alexithymia scale (20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale) and the somatization scale (Patient Health Questionnaire-15) have not been studied in Lebanon, this research focused on examining that as well. A sample of 237 Lebanese participants aged 18 and above were recruited through the non-probability snowball sampling technique and were asked to fill out an online questionnaire that included the demographic section, the TAS-20 and the PHQ-15. A quantitative approach to studying the relationships between the different variables was followed. Using the statistical program SPSS, the results showed a weak, statistically significant positive correlation between alexithymia and somatization (r = 0.434). A multiple regression analysis found that the ‘difficulty in identifying feelings’ (DIF) facet of alexithymia most likely contributes to changes in somatization levels. Moreover, the age (r = - 0.126), monthly salary (r = -0.266) and number of languages spoken (r = -0.143) variables were shown to be negatively correlated with alexithymia, and not related to somatization; hence, alexithymia is likely to decrease as age, monthly salary and number of languages spoken increase. Conversely, an ANOVA test showed a relationship between employment status and somatization but not alexithymia, with those who are employed having higher somatization levels than their unemployed counterparts. The findings also showed that as the USD income of the Lebanese population increases, the lower the levels of alexithymia measured. As for the Gender, relationship status and the number of hours spent on video gaming variables, T-tests and ANOVAs showed no association to either of the two main variables. Finally, both the TAS-20 and PHQ-15 scales were proven to be reliable among the Lebanese population, with a Cronbach’s alpha of 0.875 and 0.832 respectively. In conclusion, according to this study, an association between one’s exaggeration of somatic symptoms and their restricted ability to understand and regulate their emotions exists in the Lebanese population. These variables vary in their correlations with the different sociodemographic variables studied.
Includes bibliographical references (p. 66-80)
Rights: This object is protected by copyright, and is made available here for research and educational purposes. Permission to reuse, publish, or reproduce the object beyond the personal and educational use exceptions must be obtained from the copyright holder
Type: Thesis
Appears in Collections:UOB Theses and Projects

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