Alexithymia among Orthodox Jews: The Role of Object Relations, Family Emotional Expressiveness, and the Presence of a Disabled Sibling

Shulamis Pollak, Joy E. Freeman


To what extent does the presence of a sibling with disabilities result in diminished capacity to experience and express emotionality? The purpose of this study was to discern whether the presence of a sibling with disabilities in Orthodox Jews promotes alexithymia over and above the hypothesized effects of psychological health in one's family of origin and level of object relations. Data analysis from 136 respondents showed that alexithymia was predicted by Object Relations (particularly Social Incompetence) and the emotional expressiveness of one's family of origin. Sibling disability did not predict alexithymia. It appears that the presence of a sibling with disabilities does not present a challenge to emotional expressiveness beyond the effects of familial and personality determinants. Results are discussed from the perspective of Object Relations theory in the context of the contemporary sociology of Orthodox Judaism, with a particular focus on the experience of having a sibling with disabilities. Clinical implications and suggestions for further study are presented.


alexithymia; orthodox jews; object relations; family emotional expressiveness; sibling; disabilities

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Copyright (c) 2008 Shulamis Pollak, Joy E. Freeman

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