Kellner's emotional inhibition scale: A clinimetric approach to alexithymia research

Silvana Grandi, Laura Sirri, Thomas N. Wise, Eliana Tossani, Giovanni A. Fava

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Background: Emotional inhibition has been an enduring concept in the psychosomatic literature explaining the onset and course of medical disorders. Currently the personality style of alexithymia is a focus of this dimension in psychosomatic theory, while actual conscious emotional inhibition, which may overlap with alexithymia, has received less attention. In the early 80s Robert Kellner developed the Emotional Inhibition Scale (EIS), a self-rating scale for emotional inhibition based on clinimetric principles. In this study we explored whether the EIS differentiated a sample of cardiac recipients from normal controls, as well as the associations between the EIS and 2 measures of alexithymia, i.e. the Toronto Alexithymia Scale-20 (TAS-20) and the Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research (DCPR). We also examined whether the EIS and the TAS-20 were differently related to depressive symptoms measured by the Symptom Questionnaire (SQ). Methods: Ninety-five heart-transplanted patients and a sample of normal controls, matched for sociodemographic variables, were administered the EIS (total score and 4 subscales concerning 'verbal inhibition', 'timidity', 'disguise of feelings', and 'self-control'), the TAS-20, the SQ, and the Structured Interview according to the DCPR for alexithymia. Results: Cardiac recipients did not display significant differences compared to normal controls in observer (DCPR) and self-rated (TAS-20) measures of alexithymia. There were, however, significant differences in EIS with regard to 'disguise of feelings'. In both groups the EIS 'verbal inhibition' and 'timidity' subscales were positively associated with the TAS-20, while the EIS 'disguise of feelings' and 'self-control' subscales were independent of alexithymia. Depressive symptoms were more related to TAS-20 than EIS total scores. Conclusions: Our results suggest that emotional inhibition and alexithymia are distinct phenomena even though they may share certain features. The EIS appears to be relatively independent of depressed mood and will be useful in assessing the individual's conscious management of affect in future psychosomatic research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)335-344
Number of pages10
JournalPsychotherapy and Psychosomatics
Issue number6
StatePublished - Oct 1 2011


  • Affect
  • Alexithymia
  • Clinimetrics
  • Depression
  • Diagnostic Criteria for Psychosomatic Research
  • Emotional inhibition
  • Heart transplantation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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