Alexithymia in Dutch violent forensic psychiatric outpatients
Until now alexithymia has not been investigated in Dutch low-educated offenders who are known for their violent behaviour. We therefore investigated a sample of aggressive forensic psychiatric outpatients, who are characterized by emotional dysregulation in conflict situations. For that purpose we used a Dutch questionnaire, the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ; Vorst & Bermond, 2001), which we also administered in a sample of secondary vocational students for a comparison. Unfortunately, the five-factor structure of the BVAQ could not be confirmed in both samples, but in the patient sample the test-retest reliability of the total score turned out to be moderate, and meaningful correlations were found with measures of relevant personality domains and problem behaviours. When both samples were compared, patients were found to display significantly higher total scores on the BVAQ than the secondary vocational students, when controlled for age. Therefore, we concluded that alexithymia may contribute to the aggressive behaviour of violent forensic psychiatric outpatients. However, patients as well as students had much higher total scores on the BVAQ than found by Vorst and Bermond (2001) in a sample of Dutch psychology students. This indicates that alexithymia as measured by the BVAQ is also inversely related to educational level and perhaps to intelligence.