Alexithymia, affect intensity and emotional range in suicidal patients

Iulian Iancu, Netta Horesh, Dorit Offer, Pinhas N. Dannon, Elie Lepkifker, Moshe Kotler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: Although negative affect in general has been widely associated with suicide, the role of specific emotions and affect features in depression and suicidality is unclear. This study examined the potential of three major components of the affect structure as predictors of suicidal behavior. Methods: Twenty suicidal depressed (SD) inpatients were compared with 20 nonsuicidal depressed (NSD) inpatients and 20 healthy controls for alexithymia, emotional range (ER; i.e. variety of emotions experienced by the subjects) and affect intensity (AI; i.e. the intensity of their emotional responsiveness). Results: Both the SD and the NSD patients had a narrower range of emotions, a stronger AI and a higher degree of alexithymia than did the healthy controls. No differences were found between the scores of the two inpatients groups. Conclusions: The three affect components examined (alexithymia, AI and ER) did not prove to represent sensitive predictors of suicidal behavior. Hopelessness and depression severity were found to be more reliable in the prediction of suicidal risk. We discuss the implications of this study, particularly the possibility of early detection and intervention in patients at risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)276-280
Number of pages5
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Affect
  • Affect intensity
  • Alexithymia
  • Depression
  • Emotional range
  • Hopelessness
  • Prediction
  • Suicide


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