Alexithymia amongst perpetrators of violent offences in Australia: Implications for rehabilitation
John Wiley and Sons
School of Arts and Humanities
Alexithymia, which involves difficulties identifying, communicating, and thinking about emotions, could be an important factor in violent offending. Our aim with the current study was to explore the levels of alexithymia among perpetrators of different types of violence (i.e., general and intimate partner) in Australia to better understand their treatment needs.
Seventy-nine male general violent offenders incarcerated in Western Australian prisons, 31 male intimate partner violence (IPV) perpetrators from IPV intervention programs, and 80 men from the general community completed the 20-item Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20).
General violent offenders and IPV perpetrators both scored significantly higher than men from the general community on total alexithymia score and the subscales that measure difficulty identifying and describing feelings; the violent groups did not differ from the general community on externally oriented thinking style. There was no significant difference between the general violent offenders and IPV perpetrators on the total alexithymia score or any of the three subscales of the TAS-20.
The results of this study suggest that perpetrators of violence in Australia have higher levels of alexithymia than non-offending men, and that alexithymia should be assessed in the treatment of violent offenders. Our findings also suggest both types of violent offenders have similar alexithymia profiles and that both have difficulties identifying and describing their emotions.