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A Disorder of Emotion Regulation: Alexithymia
Scientific Report: A Disorder of Emotion
People with high levels of alexithymia display notable difficulties in identifying and describing their emotional feelings. The scientific study of alexithymia is nowadays a booming enterprise across multiple disciplines, including psychology, neuroscience, psychiatry, and psychosomatic medicine. The aim of this NIAS-Lorentz Workshop was to bridge the interdisciplinary research in alexithymia. This was the first time in four decades since the construct was first suggested that researchers across the entire field gathered together in a single meeting. For this meeting, the participants came from 13 different countries: Belgium, Canada, Cyprus, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Poland, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, and United State of America.
The workshop brought together 15 state-of-art presentations from different fields studying alexithymia. A direct and tangible outcome of these presentations will be the publication of a handbook on the recent developments in alexithymia research. The presentations from the workshop will be written as chapters in the upcoming months, and will be published as a book by Cambridge University Press. The projected publishing date is 2018.
Alongside presentations, the workshop also included group discussion sessions at the end of each day. In these discussion sessions, the participants divided into smaller groups to tackle specific issues concerning alexithymia research, which was one of the aims for the workshop. These sessions brought together researchers from different fields, which created a highly innovative atmosphere. At the end of the workshop, we provided these groups with online communication channels to continue their work and collaborate for future projects.
The format of the workshop worked great for our workshop. Each day included 4 to 5 talks, and every talk was followed by a 25 mins discussion session. All participants were highly active, and they were asking intriguing questions. We also recorded these discussions and sent it to the speakers to use it as a feedback in their future work, which was highly appreciated.
The group discussion sessions at the end of each day, mentioned above, was new for everyone. On the first day, we asked participants for general topics that they would like to discuss. They could write them down on the ‘magic papers’ that we hanged in the large room. After lunch, we asked them to rate the topics that was mentioned for their interest. From these ratings, we picked the top three topics as the subject matter of group discussion sessions. Even though it was a bit chaotic on the first day, the participants got used to it the following days, and we received positive feedback.
Overall, participants were highly impressed by the facilities of Lorentz Center. Organizers also found it tremendously helpful to have Lorentz Center’s support. Overall everyone enjoyed the week full of talks and discussions, as well as the social program (Wine and Cheese, and the Dinner at the beach).
Michiko Kano Sendai, Japan
Sander Koole Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Olivier Luminet Leuven, Belgium
Dalya Samur Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Participants of NIAS-Lorentz Workshop ‘A Disorder of Emotion Regulation: Alexithymia’. May/2017