A Deficit In Empathy And Distorted View Of Irony In Alcoholic Men

Article Date: 10 Nov 2012


Emotions are often implicit undertones to our communication interactions, and decoding them requires substantial social and cognitive abilities. Prior research has shown that chronic alcoholics often demonstrate impaired socio-cognitive and communicative abilities as well as emotion-related behaviors. Male alcoholics in particular suffer from dysfunctions in empathy. A study of the ability of chronic male alcoholics to recognize the emotional component of irony in relation to their empathic abilities has found a clear deficit. 

Results will be published in the February 2013 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Researchand are currently available at Early View. 

“Chronic alcohol abuse seems to have effects on the perception and decoding of emotional expressions,” said Simona Amenta, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Milano-Bicocca, lecturer at the Catholic University of Milan, and corresponding author for the study. “It has been associated with higher frequencies of alexithymia, meaning deficits in emotion recognition and verbalization, leading to difficulties in distinguishing and comprehending people’s emotional states, and then using emotional information to plan social and interactive acts. While alcoholic subjects seem to be able to correctly recognize emotions like joy and disgust, they show a tendency to overestimate anger and other negative emotions like fear and sadness.” Read More…

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