Alexithymia, immunity and cervical intraepithelial neoplasia: A pilot study

O. Todarelloa, A. Casamassimac, M. Marinaccioh, M. W. La Pesaa, L. Caradonnac, L. Valentinoc, L. Marinaccioc

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Alexithymia and circulating lymphocyte subsets were studied in 62 women [36 healthy women and 26 women affected by cervical intraepithelial neoplasia (CIN I, II, III) who were not aware of their status] in order to assess a possible relationship between alexithymia, CIN and immunological lymphocytic functions. Alexithymia was estimated by the 20-item Schall-ing-Sifneos Personality Scale and then correlated with peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets. The results of our study report an association between alexithymia and CIN. Alexithymic women show lower rates of almost all lymphocytic subsets compared to nonalexithymic ones. The difference was also found between alexithymic women affected by CIN and alexithymic women with an unsuspicious Pap smear. On the whole, these preliminary results seem to confirm data reported by other authors who hypothesized that a certain personality trait characterized by emotional inhibiton is related to a greater cancer vulnerability. Such relationships might be mediated by certain lymphocytic functions as the result of the alexithymic status. Results reported here need more extensive surveys, in order to control potentially confounding factors related to the personality assessment of the subjects in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-204
Number of pages6
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1994


  • Alexithimia
  • Cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
  • Immunity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Applied Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychology(all)


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