The importance of identifying underlying process abnormalities in alexithymia: Implications of the three-process model and a single case study illustration

Ryan Smith, Alfred W Kaszniak, Joanna Katsanis, Richard D Lane, Lisbeth Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


We present an in-depth case study of a rare individual (whom we will refer to as “Jane”) who reported an inability to experience emotion. Jane completed a range of assessments measuring alexithymia, emotional awareness, and emotion recognition ability. She, along with 22 control participants, also underwent skin conductance (SC) measurement and facial electromyography (EMG) during exposure to affective images, and self reported the valence/arousal of their responses to those images. Jane scored high on alexithymia and low on emotional awareness; yet she performed well on emotion recognition measures and showed a typical pattern of valence ratings. Her SC responses and subjective arousal ratings were atypically low, and some of her EMG responses were also atypical. Jane's deficit profile highlights the dissociability of self-focused emotional awareness and other-focused emotion recognition ability, as well as the dissociability between the generation and representation of valence and arousal (with both subjective and objective measures).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)33-46
Number of pages14
JournalConsciousness and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019



  • Affective agnosia
  • Alexithymia
  • Emotional awareness
  • Suicide
  • Three-process model

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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