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Fibromyalgia, Facial Expression and Emotional Experience

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Journal: Psychopathology. 2007 Mar 29;40(4):203-208

Authors and affiliation: Kirsch A, Bernardy K. Department of Clinical Psychology and Psychotherapy, Saarland University, Saarbrucken, Germany.

PMID: 17396046

Background: The present study aims at analyzing the nonverbal affective behavior of female Fibromyalgia (FM) inpatients in comparison to healthy women.

Methods: Videotaped psychodynamic interviews of each of 15 female FM inpatients and healthy women were analyzed. Afterwards the analyses of facial expression were related to gazing behavior and emotional experience.

Results: FM patients exhibited neither a reduction in total activity of facial expression nor in absolute frequency of primary affects in comparison to healthy women, who, however (also in eye contact) also exhibited a significantly higher proportion of 'genuine joy' and a lower one of 'contempt'. No congruence between the patient's emotional experience and affective expression was found.

Conclusions: The absence of reduced total activity of facial expression is in contrast to the elaborate descriptions of complaints provided by the patients.

Nevertheless, our detailed analysis shows a lack of elements that stabilize the relationship and the presence of dissociating elements in the interactions.

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