Scielo RSS <![CDATA[Salud mental]]> vol. 29 num. 3 lang. pt <![CDATA[SciELO Logo]]> <![CDATA[La ordenación piramidal del cerebro y el enjambre de la conciencia. Segunda parte]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: The present paper offers a particular emergence, dual aspect, and dynamic system theory of the neural correlate of consciousness. The theory is grounded on two successive hypotheses supported with empirical evidences and concepts from the neurosciences, approximations to the sciences of complexity, and philosophical arguments. The first hypothesis is that consciousness emerges along with the highest level of brain function, i.e., at the intermodular domain of the whole organ. This hypothesis is upheld by two necessary requisites; the first is the generalized impression in neuroscience of the brain as an information-handling device, and that this property enables every mental activity, including consciousness, to take place. This concept is verified on several empirical grounds. If we take the synapse as a binary code of information, the computation capacity of the brain is in the order of 100 million Megabits. Even such enormous figure is limited and misleading because the synapse manifests not only two, but three possible informational states (excitation, rest, and inhibition), because there are subliminal potentials, and also a compact intracellular information machinery. Moreover, the informational requirement of consciousness is accurately delivered by Kuffler and Nichols' five ruling principles of brain function: (1) The brain uses electrical signals to process information; (2) Such electrical signals are identical in all neurons; (3) The signals constitute codes of codification and representation; (4) The origin and destiny of the fibers determines the content of information; (5) The meaning of the signals lies in the interactions. Even though the reference to representation, content, and meaning implies higher cognitive properties, it seems necessary to add a sixth principle for a more judicious neural implication in regard to consciousness. This principle is that information is processed in the brain in six levels of complexity, undergoing a gradual gain in density, integration, congruity, and capacity in each consecutive stratum. The six levels are the following: (1) Organismic, the integration of the nervous system with the rest of the organism systems; (2) Organic, the integration of the different modules in the whole brain; (3) Modular, the set of brain modules and their interconnections; (4) Intercellular, the designs and functional bindings among neuron cells; (5) Cellular, the set of brain cells, particularly neurons; (6) Molecular, the chemical components that mediate the transmission of information. In this fashion, the second requisite to uphold the emergence of consciousness lies in establishing that the different levels of brain organization constitute a pyramidal arrangement. Certainly, the number of elements is greater in the lower levels, while the integration of information is progressively enhanced in the upper levels. Moreover, this neuropsychological pyramid insinuates both an ascending cascade whereby the lower orders stipulate and influence the upper ones, and a progressive and convergent functional enrichment ultimately resulting in the qualia, feeling, and awareness attributes of consciousness. Information flows horizontally in each level, but it also overflows vertically in both directions. This pyramidal scheme is applied to clarify two parti cular aspects of brain function that are closely linked to consciousness: the electrical activity and the engram of memory. Such inquiry makes clear that a qualitative jump manifested by the emergence of various and dissimilar novelties occur at each layer of brain operation based upon a mass coordination. It seems feasible to envision the engram, and conceivably every other mental representation, as a plastic pattern involving all levels and aspects of brain operation, including the pinnacle where consciousness consolidates as the subjective aspect of the uppermost brain function. As a result of the proposed stratified and pyramidal scheme of brain functions, the first hypotheses is strengthened and specified. Thus, presumably consciousness and the neural capacities correlated to it constitute two associated aspects emerging from such particular functional hierarchy at the organic level of the brain by the efficient connection of its modules. It would not be required that all the modules of the brain become interrelated during a conscious processing, but that they would be functionally available while some of them become progressively active by intermodular articulation thereby making possible the arising and unfolding of conscious mental operation streams. In order to reinforce this notion the visual system is invoked since the scene that is consciously perceived emerges from the coordination of some 40 modules that separately appear to operate unconsciously. At the moment that such high-hierarchy and complex function presumably appears, it would achieve a conscious correlate and become altogether able to exert a descending causality and supervene the operation of the lower orders, which, among other capacities, would permit voluntary action to take place. In order to specify the first hypothesis asserting that consciousness emerges at the organic level of the brain along with the proficient inter-modular connectivity, a second hypothesis is formulated and justified in neuroanatomical, neurophysiological, and complexity science terms. The supposition is that the specific neural correlate of consciousness may be a function similar to a bird flock or an insect swarm orderly binding the operations of different modules in a cinematic, hipercomplex, coherent, and synchronic stream. The human brain contains some 400 cortical and subcortical modules functioning as partially specialized stations that potentially interchange particularly codified information through some 2500 fibers or intermodular pathways. The hypothesis requires that information complexity undergoes a further and substantial gain of attributions through the concise and prolific connectivity of the different modules. In this regard, it is supposed that a stream of coherent activation is constituted in the conscious brain by the intermodular dynamics and that such dynamics may acquire global patterned properties in a simi lar way as bird flocks and so-called intelligent swarms achieve unanimously shifting dynamics. This particular idea is supported with complexity science models of the remarkable performances of large groups of birds and insects and with the known behavior of massive populations of neurons. In so far as this would be a complex function operating at the limits of equilibrium resulting from local dynamics of the brain subsystems, the self-organization of high level brain functions justifies the notion that a dynamic coupling among modules can and may result in complex cognitive properties and consciousness. Intermodular brain dynamics is conceived here as an emergent, unbound, synchronic, hypercomplex, highly coherent, and tetradimensional process capable to navigate, steer, swirl, split, and flow throughout the brain and thereby connect very diverse systems in a fast and efficient manner. In the same way, its putative subjective correlate, the conscious process, can be conceived as an emergent, voluntary, unified, qualitative, and narrative process capable to access, coordinate, and integrate multiple local information mechanisms. The hypothesis poses that the conscious transformation of information is correlated, moment to moment and point to point, with the intermodular processing that evolves in the manner of a bird flock or swarm dynamics. It is finally posed that brain intermodular dynamics correlated to consciousness consolidates by the convergence of an ascending bottom-up organization of the different ranks of brain operation, and by the descending top-down influx of the social, cultural, and environmental information where the individual is immersed. <![CDATA[Sincronización luminosa. Conceptos básicos. Primera parte]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract The periodic fluctuations in diverse physiological parameters are a general property of all organisms. Furthermore, when these fluctuations occur to intervals regulates these are considered as «biological rhythms». The biological rhythms are generated by an endogenous mechanism of the organism. The biological rhythms appear in wide interval in frequencies of oscillation, which go from a cycle by millisecond to a cycle per year. Additionally, the geophysical environment is characterized by the existence of cycles deriving from movements of the earth and the moon with regard to sun. These environmental or geophysical cycles are the days, tides, lunar phases and seasons of the year. When the frequency of a biological rhythm approaches that of an environmental cycle, the prefix "circa" is used to refer to it. Likewise, 24-hour biological rhythms are designated as circadian rhythms. The circadian rhythms represent one of the most ubiquitous adaptive characteristics of the organism. In mammals, they represent an important process through which events of the internal milieu are organized in an appropriate temporary sequence, thus enhancing a maximum adaptation to external milieu. This characteristic allows organisms to predict and to be prepared for changes in the geophysical environment associated with the day and the night. To carry out this adaptive role, the circadian rhythms require the biological system having the capacity to measure the biological time. Thus, the circadian rhythm should be generated endogenously, adjusting the geographical time. Moreover, under usual environmental conditions, the period of the oscillator is adjusted to the period of the environmental cycle. The endogenous origin of the biological rhythms is based on the fact that, in temporary environmental signs isolation conditions, the biological rhythm persists with a light but significant variation in the value of the period of oscillation. The afore mentioned considerations suggest that the rhythm observed does not depend on cyclic geophysical phenomena. Thus, the rhythm maintained under constant conditions reflects an internal organism's process. This essential ability of the organism to maintain circadian rhythms, even in the absence of periodic environmental cues, is known as rhythm in spontaneous oscillation or free-running. Nevertheless, the organism is never isolated from temporary signals and it keeps a narrow temporary relation with the environmental cues by which the phase and the period of the overt rhythm can be adjusted to the phase and period of the environmental cyclic changes. This process is called «entrainment». It is considered that the three fundamental properties of circadian rhythms are the persisting free-running rhythm, the temperature compensation and the entrainment. Literally, the word entrainment means «to get aboard a train» (from the French word entramen «to carry along»). In this context, the entrainment of a biological clock is generated through a controllers stimuli train with a specific period, which induces a biological clock with a different endogenous period from 24 hours to be adjusted for the period of the periodic environmental cycle. The entrainment of the biological clock provides to internal milieu of a reckoned of the external time. This process can occur for a modulation of the period and/or of the phase of the biological rhythm, that is, the endogenous period of the biological rhythm is adjusted to the period of the zeitgeber with a relation phase stable (or phase angle) between the zeitgeber and the oscillation entrained. Studies where subjects were submitted to a rigorous temporary isolation indicated that only certain environmental variables are capable of acting as temporary signals for the circadian system. In 1951, Aschoff coined the word «Zeitgeber» from the German «given of time», which describes an environmental cycle capable of affecting the period and the phase of a biological clock. In nature, multiple environmental cues oscillate under a daily cycle, including light, darkness, temperature, humidity, availability of food and social signals. Some of these factors may act as zeitgebers of the biological clock, but the most consistent and predictable environmental signal is the 24-hour cycle of light-darkness (L:O) (photic entrainment). Nevertheless, organisms can be entrained for other stimuli (non-photic entrainment) such as temperature, electromagnetic fields, environmental pressure, sound, availability of food and social signals. Researchers have developed two theoretical models to explain the mechanism(s) by which the circadian clock is entrained to an environmental cycle: the discreet model (non-parametric or phasic) and the continuous model (parametric or tonic). The model of continuous entrainment is based on the observation that the period in free running (POE) to depend of the intensity light and suggests that the light has a continuous action on the biological clock to entrain it to a cycle light-darkness (L:O). The mechanism suggested for this is the acceleration and deceleration of the POE (angular velocity), due to daily changes in the intensity of the light, these permit to circadian pacemaker is continuously adjusted along the environmental cycle. The discreet model has been the most utilized model to explain the entrainment to environmental cycles. The basic premise of this model is that the circadian pacemaker entrained this in equilibrium with the cycle light: darkness (L:D), which consists of brief pulses of light (zeitgeber). When a brief pulse of light falls in a specific phase of the biological clock, this produces an phase response equal to the difference between the POE and the period of the cycle entrained. The day-night cycles generated by the rotation of the earth around its axis influence the life of the organism to a large extension. Many organisms coordinate their activities to these cycles. Some of them are diurnal, while other ones nocturnal. Moreover other animals escape from the daily periodic environment and they organize their life in constant environments as in the depth of the ocean or in natural caverns. It is not clear how and because biological clocks with a period of approximately 24 hours evolved in cyclic environments of exactly 24 hours. A possible explanation is that the cycles L:D provide an optimum stability for their expression. There has been as were that the cycle L:D is the first environmental signal behind the emergency and maintenance of the circadian clocks. A large number of cell functions are affected by the light, and is being speculated that the original organisms could have restricted some of their outstanding metabolic processes at night, thus avoiding the adverse effects of the light. In fact, some organisms adjust several of their sensitive cell processes to the light. For example, there is an augmented replication of the DNA, at night to avoid the exposition to deleterious ultraviolet radiation. Thus it is possible to propose a hypothesis of how the circadian clocks could evolve at phylogenetically level: the ancient organisms generated a temporary program, where sensitive processes to the light were temporarily restricted to avoid the damage induced by the sunlight; these temporary programs turned out to be advantageous and thus they were selected through evolution of species. <![CDATA[5-Hydroxytryptaminie and plasticity in rodents]]> Abstract: The attributes that characterize a molecule as neurotransmitter at CNS are: i . neuronal synthesis, ii . being present at presynapsis, iii. Ca2+-dependent release, iv. postsynaptic actions mediated by receptors, v. an elimination mechanism at synapse. Since 1964, 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) was included as a neurotransmitter and is part of a set of neurotransmitters named biogenic amines. In rodents, the 5-hydroxytryptaminergic system is constituted by nine nuclei at brainstem, and divided in two groups, rostral and caudal by ther localization. The rostral group projects mainly to the telencephalon and diencephalon, while the caudal group does it to the spinal cord. 5-HT innervation to brainstem and cerebellar nuclei have been also described. The most well-known function of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) in the CNS is neuromodulation, in processes such as memory, learning, mood, sleep-wake cycle; all of these are regulated by this biogenic amine through a wide family of receptors. All the receptors are metabotropic with the sole exception of 5-HT1, which is an ionotropic receptor. The 5-HT system differentiates early in ontogenesis; 5-HT immunoreactive neurons are evident in rat fetuses at embryonic day 12 (E12), when almost any other neuronal lineage possesses a cellular commitment. This fact highlights the importance 5-HT has at neurodevelopment. Scientific works are focused in the 5-HT auto-regulatory signalling for neuropil outgrowth at ontogeny, another remarkable trait of the 5-HT system. In addition, 5-HT releases astrocyte neurotrophic factor S-100 beta, necessary for dendritic maintenance. The 5-HT set point at different stages during ontogeny remains unknown. Several target structures of the 5-HT system are dependent on the level of 5-HT activity in newborn rodents; e.g. the somatosensory cortex where proper barrel field arrangement requires an active 5-HT innervation. Moreover, besides the 5-HT level, other factors, such as the level of reelin, are determinant for the proper cytoarchitectonic organization of the neocortex. The use of 5-methoxytryptamine, an unespecific 5-HT agonist, in the prenatal period, which negatively affects the reelin level, leads to cytoarchitectonic derangement, as it has been described to occur in the presubicular cortex. 5-HT and plasticity are also related to neurogenesis in adulthood. Neurogenesis in adulthood is influenced by several factors. Some of them, such as exercise and an enriched environment, increase the rate of newly born neurons in the dentate gyrus and olfactory bulb; while others, such as mood depression (in humans), low 5-HT levels, 5-HT1A receptor blockade by antagonists, or down-regulation, account for a poor neurogenesis rate. Chronic administration of 5-HT reuptake inhibitors, such as fluoxetine, increases the number of bromodeoxiuridine- labelled (BrdU) granule cells at the dentate gyrus and hilus versus control rats. This means that fluoxetine increases the neurogenesis rate. Newly born granule cells at dentate gyrus are more likely to survive, thus contributing to maintaining the hippocampal volume unchanged. On the contrary, following chronic 5-HT antagonist administration, specifically 5-HT1A receptor blockade BrdU-labelled granule cells in dentate gyrus are 30% reduced. Reduced hippocampal volume develops in humans affected by major depression, concomitant in some cases with a decrease in 5-HT neurotransmiter level. Recent studies linking 5-HT neurogenesis stimulation in dentate gyrus explain why plastic phenomena associated to pathology could be reversed by 5-HT reuptake inhibitors like fluoxetine. These works contribute to a better understanding of both depression etiology and clinical approach.<hr/>Resumen: Se considera que la 5-hidroxitriptamina (5-HT) como un neurotransmisor en el SNC si cubre los siguientes criterios: i. síntesis y vesiculación al interior de la neurona, ii. presencia de la molécula en la presinapsis, iii . liberación en un mecanismo dependiente de Ca+2, iv. acción postsináptica mediada por receptores para la molécula y v. presencia de mecanismos de recaptura y degradación. Los cuerpos celulares de las neuronas que sintetizan 5-HT se agrupan en nueve núcleos distribuidos en el tallo cerebral. A su vez, estos núcleos se dividen en dos grandes grupos, rostral y caudal, de acuerdo con su localización. El grupo rostral inerva principalmente el telencéfalo y el diencéfalo, mientras que el grupo caudal hace lo propio con la médula espinal. La actividad del sistema 5-HT es neuromoduladora, esto es, interviene en la regulación de la actividad neuronal por medio de receptores, todos ellos metabotrópicos, con excepción del receptor 5-HT 3, que es ionotrópico. Los procesos relacionados con el sistema 5-HT comprenden la regulación del talante emocional, el aprendizaje, la memoria, la regulación del tono muscular, la ingesta de alimentos, la conducta sexual y la regulación del ciclo sueño-vigilia en humanos. Durante el desarrollo, las primeras neuronas inmunorreactivas a 5-HT se observan en el día 12 de la gestación de ratas a lo largo del borde entre el metencéfalo y el mielencéfalo rostral, en la región externa de la zona ventricular. El pico de proliferación celular para este fenotipo ocurre en E15 y, pese a que la inervación completa del SNC concluye en la tercera semana de vida post natal, al nacimiento están presentes la totalidad de las neuronas 5-HT, así como las principales proyecciones de este sistema. La relevancia de la 5-HT es notoria al observarse los procesos con que se relaciona durante el desarrollo. Uno de ellos es la elongación axónica en función de un gradiente de concentración. Al momento en que los neuroblastos intervienen en el nivel celular y se diferencian en neuronas 5-HT, sintetizan y secretan el neurotransmisor. De esta forma, el milieu posee un gradiente 5-HT que influye en la elongación axónica por medio de un asa de retroalimentación negativa. Otra forma en que la 5-HT incide en el neurodesarrollo es al promover la secreción del factor neurotrófico derivado de astrositos: S-100p. Esta proteína estimula el crecimiento neurítico en las neuronas 5-HT y contribuye a mantener la inervación 5-HT a las estructuras blanco. La administración prenatal de 5-metoxitriptamina, agonista específico 5-HT, provocó alteraciones citoarquitectónicas en la corteza presubicular de las crías evaluadas en P7. Con lo anterior se sugiere, por último, que la 5-HT influye en el desarrollo de sus estructuras blanco. El vínculo entre 5-HT y plasticidad continúa en la vida adulta, cuando la 5-HT sostiene una estrecha relación con la neurogénesis en el giro dentado. Trastornos y procesos como el estrés crónico, la depresión (en humanos) y la disminución en el nivel de 5-HT, así como la administración de antagonistas del receptor 5-HT1A, disminuyen la tasa de proliferación neuronal, evaluada mediante el marcaje de células recién generadas con bromodeoxiuridina. Esto lo efectúan en una magnitud similar a la que se observa tras la administración de un inhibidor de la síntesis de 5-HT. Por otra parte, la administración crónica de inhibidores de la recaptura de 5-HT, como la fluoxetina, incrementa la tasa de neurogénesis en ratas adultas. Estos trabajos resaltan la importancia del sistema 5-HT a lo largo de toda la vida del individuo en los fenómenos de plasticidad. <![CDATA[Agorafobia (con o sin pánico) y conductas de afrontamiento desadaptativas. Estudio empírico. Segunda parte]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: This paper is focused in the coping strategies used by patients with an agoraphobic disorder (AD) when they are forced to confront phobic situations. Traditionally, the coping strategies considered were those used by agoraphobia patients to reduce anxiety and psychological distress: the avoidance behavior (to avoid the phobic stimuli) and the escape behavior (when the phobic stimulus is present). Additionally, behaviors used to try to avoid negative physiological responses similar to those occurring in an anxiety crisis (interoceptive avoidance) are also included. A fourth group of behaviors has received less attention: coping strategies that partially allow agoraphobia patients to confront and resist the presence of phobic stimuli. These are stimuli that they need to or are forced to confront. These partial coping strategies (often rituals behaviors) are behaviors to which patients assign a value in decreasing the anxiety to tolerable levels until they are able to confront and resist the phobic scenes (even partially). These behaviors play a non-adaptative role because they difficult the development of adaptative self-control strategies, interfere with daily living conditions, and support the disorder providing an initial and immediate relief of psychological distress. We prefer to name all these strategies non-adaptative coping behaviors. Despite the relevance of these partial coping strategies in the development and consolidation of agoraphobia, their empiric study has been infrequent (especially when compared to the study of both avoidance and escape behaviors). In that sense, with the present study we try to provide data about the following issues: 1) to know how frequently AP' use non-adaptative coping behaviors compared with a group of patients with other disorders. 2) The differential use of behavioral patterns by agoraphobic patients (AP): avoidance behaviors, interoceptive avoidance, escape behaviors, and, especially, the partial coping strategies. 3) The role of partial coping strategies in the evaluation of therapeutic outcome, according to the clinician opinion. The empirical study was designed in two stages: First, the elaboration of a scale to measure coping strategies of phobic stimuli. For that purpose, we took into account literature on the topic, observational data and clinical histories of patients with agoraphobia. The result was a scale (CAD scale) composed by 87 overt behavior items, and 52 covert behavior items. All of these items allowed for the formation of four behavioural patterns, grouping items according to their functions in coping with phobic stimuli: 1) avoidance behavioral pattern; 2) interoceptive avoidance pattern; 3) escape behavioral pattern; and 4) partial coping behavioral pattern. Second stage: The application of the CAD scale to a clinical simple. A group of psychologists and psychiatrists (from a local mental health service unit) were requested to administrate the scale to their patients, with their informed consent. The final sample (n = 235) was as follows: 40 with agoraphobic disorder (30 women and 10 men); 30 with panic disorder (18 women and 12 men); 30 mixed with anxious-depressive disorder (25 women and 5 men); 40 with depressive disorders (32 women and 8 men); 25 with psychotic disorders (10 women and 15 men). A matched group without any clinical disorders was added later (N = 70, 49 women and 21 men). After analysing the results related to the use of non-adaptative coping behaviors, these may be summarized as follows: In gene ral, the group which used less the CAD strategies was the non-clinical group. The patients with agoraphobia were the ones who used the CAD strategies in a more significant level, compared with both the non-clinical group and the groups with other disorders. This includes the use of partial coping behaviors. Results were similar both to CAD overt strategies and covert strategies. Comparing the differential use of CAD strategies by patients with agoraphobia, results show a more significant use of avoidance behaviors (especially in overt behavior form), followed by escape behaviors. Interoceptive avoidance was the third CAD more frequently used. Partial coping behaviors were less used in contrast with other CAD strategies. According to therapist judgments with respect to the relationship between the use of coping strategies and the therapeutic progress evaluation, the AP sample was divided into two groups: positive progress and non-positive progress (negative, unstable or no progress). The positive progress group shows a significant lower use of avoidance behaviors, interoceptive avoidance, and escape behaviors, but only in the overt behavior form. There were no significant effects for partial coping behavior. In other words, a positive evolution in PA was joined by a decrease in avoidance overt behaviors, interoceptive overt avoidance, and escape overt behaviors, but there were no changes in the use of both cognitive coping strategies and partial coping behaviors. Our findings confirm that CAD strategies are more used by AP. Partial coping behaviours are included among these. It was a well-known fact (and previous data supported it), that agoraphobia patients tended to use more both avoidance and escape strategies as procedures which relieved them from anxiety and psychological distress. But, also, there were few data about the role of strategies allowing AP to confront and resist the phobic scenes: the partial coping behaviors. Our data provide information about this kind of coping. Results support that it is more frequently used by agoraphobia patients. This is true when comparing it with patients with other disorders, and, obviously, in contrast with the normal population. But the use of partial coping behaviors is not commonly compared with "more traditional" behaviors such as avoidance or escape behaviors. It may be said that people with agoraphobia choose to avoid or to escape from phobic situations as the best way for them to reduce anxiety. But there is a group of phobic situations an agoraphobic patient must confront on some occasions (attending a medical service, buying something, etc.). These few occasions represent an opportunity to use partial coping strategies. The limited use of these strategies may be due to the fact that other strategies reduce anxiety in a more effective way. In that sense, they may be considered as behaviors having a low frequency of occurrence and a high intensity. We especially appreciate findings about the role of partial coping strategies in the therapeutic progress when a clinician emits judgments about the improvement of agoraphobia patients. These judgments are linked to a decrease of several non- adaptative overt strategies, but there is no change in cognitive coping strategies and neither in partial coping behaviors. These may be interpretated as imprecise therapist judgments, but also as the role played by this kind of strategies in the latent maintenance of agoraphobic responses. Finally, this paper discusses these results according to the counter-therapeutic role of partial coping strategies, and the need to consider them as a target objective in treatment process. <![CDATA[Influencia de la cantidad y la calidad subjetiva de sueño en diversas características de personalidad]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: In relation to individual differences in the habitual duration of sleep, a distinction can be established between subjects having a short sleep pattern (6 hours or less of sleep per night), subjects with an intermediate sleep pattern (between 7 and 8 hours of sleep), and subjects with a long sleep pattern (more than 9 hours of sleep). The reason for these individual differences in sleep duration is unknown. Diverse studies have been carried out in an attempt to understand if psychological or physiological differences exist in people with distinct sleep patterns. Recently, it has been demonstrated that sleeping less and, paradoxically, sleeping more than the sleep quantity associated with the intermediate sleep pattern (7-8 hours) has a negative impact on physical health. On the contrary, studies about possible psychological differences between different sleep patterns are almost nonexistent. Some studies that analyze variables regarding vigilance suggest that subjects with a long sleep pattern have a poorer performance in tests of vigilance than subjects who have a short sleep pattern. In turn, subjects with short sleep pattern appear to have more academic efficiency problems and appear to show a more depressed mood state than the subjects belonging to the other sleep pattern groups. One aspect that has been scarcely analyzed, with the exception of the classic works by Hartmann and Hicks in the 1970's, is if sleep patterns differ according to personality characteristics. The dimensions of personality which have received more attention have been extraversion and neuroticism, and none of the majority of studies has observed any significative differences in function of sleep patterns. Nevertheless, in the case of neuroticism, results are contradictory and there exist also reports that observe differences in sleep pattern function. It is important to emphasize that in these studies the quantity of sleep was not considered along with other essential aspects of sleep such as quality. Perhaps this aspect could explain a part of the inconsistent findings in the literature. On the other hand, psychoticism, which along with extraversion and neuroticism constitutes the third big dimension of the known tripartite model of personality, has been the least investigated personality dimension. Again, no work exists which analyzes the relations between the pattern of sleep and the dimension of personality of cognitive limits more recently proposed by Hartmann. The present study is a part of a wider investigation, the objective of which is to analyze the relations between the subjective quantity and quality of sleep and psychological variables in healthy individuals. This paper is centered on the influence of the pattern of sleep (short, intermediate, and long), the subjective quality of sleep (high, medium, or low) and the possible interaction between both factors in the personality dimensions of neuroticism, psychoticism, and cognitive limits. The sample was composed of 125 healthy students (110 women and 15 males) with ages ranging from 18 to 26 years old. The participants were selected according to their responses to a sleep questionnaire created for this purpose, which explored the habits of sleep, the state of medical health, past and present psychological condition, and possible use of medication. All the subjects selected showed good medical and psychological health, they did not use any type of medication, nor did they belong to any extreme morning or evening type of circadian rhythm. Each subject had a regular bedtime hour between 11:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. and waking hour between 7:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The subjects selected were divided into three groups in accordance with the number of hours they habitually slept in order to feel good during the day: 1. subjects with short sleep pattern (n=20), 2. subjects with intermediate sleep pattern (n=82) and finally, 3. subjects with long sleep pattern (n=23). Additionally, other three groups were established within each of the sleep patterns considering if the quality of sleep was high, medium, or low. In short sleep pattern group the quality of sleep reported as high, medium, and low was 25%, 40%, and 35%, respectively. These percentages were 42.68%, 43.9%, and 13.41% in the group with an intermediate sleep pattern; and 30.43%, 52.17%, and 17.39% in the group with a long sleep pattern. The personality dimensions of neuroticism and psychoticism were evaluated with The Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (EPQ-A). The cognitive boundaries were evaluated with The Boundary Questionnaire (BQ). In addition, subjects completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) (which have not been taken into consideration here). The criteria of exclusion were a score higher than 18 on the BDI or the BAI and a score higher than 70 on the dimensions of neuroticism and psychoticism. These last exclusions were established to make assure the subjects were free of psychological dysfunction. Two-way analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were performed to assess the effects of the quantity of sleep (short, intermediate, or long sleep pattern), and the subjective quality of sleep (high, medium, or low) and the possible interaction between both factors in the case of each variable. The Levene test was used to examine variance homogeneity. Likewise, the Scheffé Test (for equal variances) and the Tamhane Test (for unequal variances) were used as post hoc contrast statistics. The results showed the dimension of neuroticism was influenced by subjective sleep quality, but not by habitual sleep duration. Subjects with a poor subjective sleep quality scored higher on neuroticism (15.14) than those who had a medium (13.23) or good (9,96) sleep quality. Contrarily, the personality dimension of psychoticism was influenced by sleep quantity, but not quality. Subjects with a low sleep pattern scored slightly higher in psychoticism (2.57) than those with intermediate (1.52) or short (1.25) sleep patterns. The dimension of cognitive boundaries was not related with any of these aspects. There was not any significant interaction between sleep quantity and sleep quality for the analyzed variables. This result highlights the need to evaluate sleep quantity as well as sleep quality, treating them as two relatively independent measures that provide complementary information. The highest scores of neuroticism of the group with the worse quality of sleep are consistent with recent reports showing that being worried or anxious disturbs the normal appearance of slow wave sleep (phases 3 and 4). The expression of this sleep phase is psychologically linked with sleep quality. On the other hand, it may be the case that the highest scores in psychoticism obtained by the subjects with long sleep pattern relate with the extra quantity of REM they obtain by sleeping a greater number of hours. This phase of sleep has been associated with mood regulation and psychological balance. In polysomnographic studies, subjects with long sleep pattern are characterized as having a greater quantity of phase 1, 2, and REM sleep and less quantities of slow wave sleep than the other sleep patterns. However, the present data are correlational and not casual. Thus, the mechanisms which could be influencing in the observed relationships are unknown. Similarly, it is unclear how sleep pattern differences might translate into psychological or biological changes which may affect personality, mood, or health. Future longitudinal research, including objective sleep measurements in healthy subjects, as well as in subjects with sleep disorders of different degrees, may contribute to the clarification of these mechanisms. In any case, sleep seems to be an excellent indicator of several psychological characteristics and so the consequences associated with models which deviate from the intermediate sleep pattern deserve to be taken seriously. It is also important to develop preventive and educational initiatives to optimize our sleeping habits. <![CDATA[Ubicación de la alexitimia en relación a los rasgos psicopatológicos de personalidad del MMPI]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: The objectives of the present study are: 1) to determine the relationship between alexithymia and depression to contrast if they both are related, although distinguishable; 2) to observe the relationship between alexithymia, measured by the TAS-20 and with the validation and clinical scales of the MMPI, especially in connection with depression and somatization, centering the analysis in the underlying dimensions; and 3) to establish if the relationship between alexithymia and somatization is direct or mediated by depression (indirect). It should be pointed out that all the psychopathological variables of this study are considered as features and these are defined by the MMPI but not by diagnostic criteria. The study sample was integrated by 362 students and obtained during the students' selection process of the UANL Psychology School. Alexithymia was measured by the TAS-20 and the psychopathological variables by the MMPI. The TAS-20 is a Likert scale of 20 elements, constituted by three orthogonal factors: difficulty in expressing feelings (DEF), difficulty in identifying feelings (DIF) and externally oriented thinking (EOT). Data was analyzed through the Pearson's lineal correlation technique, partial correlation and factor analysis. The factorial analysis was done by the method of principal components with an orthogonal rotation Varimax. The criterion of Kaiser-Meyer-Olkin (eigenvalues over one) was used to determine the number of factors. It was hypothesized that: 1) The total score of the TAS-20 and their first two factors (DEF and DIF) would correlate positive and significantly with depression, and that both concepts would be perfectly distinguishable based on the factorial saturations of the scales inside the components that arise when factoring the TAS-20 and the MMPI clinical and validation scales. 2) A positive and significant correlation was expected between alexithymia and the somatoform dimension (in regard to the scales of Hysteria and Hypochondriasis). 3) If the relationship between alexithymia and the somatoform dimension was direct, then the correlation would be increased, in some degree, when eliminating the effect of depression; consequently, the correlation between alexithymia and depression would be increased when eliminating the influence of the somatoform dimension. On the contrary, if the relationship were indirect or if this reflected a masked or somatoform depression, then the correlation of alexithymia with the somatoform dimension would be weaker than with the depression. Besides, the correlation between alexithymia and somatoform dimension would be diminished or would not become significant if the effect of the depression was eliminated. Consequently, the correlation between alexithymia and depression would diminish if the influence of somatoform dimension was partialized. The MMPI Scale 2 (depression) correlated in a direct, significant (p &lt;.01) but in a low way (from .265 to .199), with the TAS-20 total score, and the first two factors (DEF and DIS), remained independent from externally oriented thinking (EOT). In the study of the factorial structures, the TAS-20 total score and the difficulty identifying feelings (DIF) appeared associated to a defensive style of low defensiveness and social desirability, remaining both variables independent of the depression and so cial introversion factor. Externally oriented thinking (EOT) was associated to the manifestation of an instrumental and not very expressive (masculine) gender role, not showing any association with depression. Only difficulty expressing feelings (DEF) formed part of the depression and social introversion factor. When contemplating the three factors of the TAS-20 simultaneously with the MMPI Scales, difficulty identifying feelings and difficulty expressing feelings were associated to a style of low defensiveness; externally oriented thinking was associated to a masculine gender role and low suspiciousness, remaining the three scales of the TAS-20 independent of the depression and social introversion factorial component. This data justify to consider depression and alexithymia as related but perfectly distinguishable concepts. Once the factorial structure of the MMPI clinical scales was estimated in our control sample of 362 students, three dimensions were observed: 1) Psychoticism characterized mainly by a very inadequate social behavior; 2) Depression and social introversion; and 3) Somatoform related with conversion symptoms, hypochondriac complaints or concerns and adoption of an expressive and not very instrumental (feminine) gender role. As it was expected, the strongest relationship was with the Depression dimension. This first MMPI clinical scale dimension was related both with the TAS-20 total score and its three factors (DEF, DIF and EOT), showing the higher magnitude correlation coefficients (from .351 to .129). In second place appears the psychoticism dimension. This second MMPI clinical scale dimension presented significant correlations both with the TAS-20 total score (.214) and with the difficulty identifying and expressing feelings (.239 with DIF and .173 with DEF). The somatoform dimension (conversion symptoms, hypochondriac complaints and feminine gender role) was the one that presented the weakest relationship with alexithymia. This third MMPI clinical scale dimension had more explanatory capacity in the third factor of the TAS-20 (-.200 with EOT) and a little less in the TAS-20 total scale (-.145) and its first factor (-.135 with DEF). In our sample of 362 students, alexithymia remained independent of the MMPI scale 3 (Hysteria) (with regard to somatization and conversion symptoms) and was very weakly associated with MMPI Hypochondriasis scale. Only difficulty identifying feelings (DIF) presented a direct relationship with the Hypochondriasis Scale (.111). The Somatoform dimension of the MMPI clinical scales correlated in a significant, inverse, but weak way with EOT (-.200), the TAS-20 total score (.154) and DEF (-.135). None of these correlations showed masking of depression. When the influence of depression was eliminated in the relationship between alexithymia and somatoform dimension, this did not diminish or stopped being significant, but rather it became clearer. In turn, when the effect of the somatoform dimension was eliminated in the relationship between alexithymia and depression, this did not decrease, but emerged even more definite. This shows a direct relationship of alexithymia both with the depression dimension and the somatoform dimension, being these two latter dimensions related to each other. The association of alexithymia is stronger with the depression dimension than with the somatoform dimension. Based on the given data, alexithymia cannot be considered as a depressive feature neither as a form of masked somatoform depression, at least in general population. The association between alexithymia and the somatoform dimension disagrees with the expectations of the early alexithymia literature. A direct association was expected. Nevertheless, an inverse correlation was obtained. The more definie the features of externally oriented thinking are, the higher the score in the TAS-20 is, or the more difficult it is to express feelings; the less conversion symptoms, hypochondriac complaints and feminine manifestation of the gender role will shown by the subjects. These results are in agreement with those of other recent studies that were done in clinical population. The fact that both, the TAS20 total punctuation and the difficulty identifying feelings, in the factorial analyses, conform a dimension of defensive style with affective isolation and negation of conflicts and problems, gives more support to this result. From the results of this study that was carried out in a 362 university students' non-clinic sample, one can affirm that alexithymia (measured by the TAS-20) and depression (measured by the MMPI) are two variables that are correlated in a significant, direct and moderately low way; being two clearly distinguishable concepts because of their form of grouping in the factorial analyses. Alexithymia is related especially with a defensive style of scarce defensiveness and low social desirability. Their relationship with the Somatoform dimension (in regard to conversion, hypochondriac complaints and adoption of an expressive and not very instrumental gender role) is significant, inverse, weak and very lightly attenuated by depression. The more alexithymic the subjects seem to be, the less conversion symptoms, somatization complaints, and hypochondria they will have, and they will show a more definitive masculinity in performing their gender role. In general, the results are consistent with the idea that alexithymia cannot be reduced to a depressive feature and even less to a feature of masked or somatoform depression, at least in non clinic university student population. <![CDATA[El SIDA y los jóvenes: un estudio de representaciones sociales]]> Resumen: El fenómeno del SIDA por sus propias características representa un objeto de estudio que requiere una visión multidisciplinaria y un tratamiento multimetodológico. Por su naturaleza promueve múltiples emociones, comportamientos y actitudes ancladas a los diversos registros de representación social de los distintos colectivos, trazando así el rostro del fenómeno mediante valoraciones y juicios morales estigmatizados que estructuran prácticas específicas hacia el SIDA. Analizar una representación social, implica reconocer el comportamiento social como sistema consensuado por grupos sociales en el que se articulan diversos sistemas representacionales. Una representación social es un proceso mental sociocognitivo mediante el cual los colectivos se explican su realidad, la cubren de elementos afectivos y le dan un significado coherente en su estructura de pensamiento. Objetivo. Indagar la representación social que un número de jóvenes universitarios del Estado de Morelos ha constituido acerca del SIDA, y el impacto de los medios de comunicación en esta representación. Metodología. Participaron cuatrocientos estudiantes de una universidad pública en edad comprendida entre diecisiete y veinticinco años. Se utilizó un cuestionario con preguntas abiertas y cerradas, autoadministrado, con su respectivo consentimiento por escrito y organizado en tres áreas: representaciones sociales del SIDA, prácticas sexuales, y medios de comunicación y SIDA. El procedimiento del análisis se hizo de acuerdo con cada una de las categorías definidas. Se realizaron dos tipos de análisis: cuantitativo para las preguntas cerradas utilizando el programa estadístico SPSS y evaluativo-cualitativo para las preguntas abiertas, con el Programa ALCESTE complementado con un análisis de contenido. Resultados. Se encontraron dos ámbitos de interacción en la construcción simbólica del SIDA: un polo de la representación se encuentra definido por el conocimiento especializado y el otro por un conocimiento de sentido común sobre la enfermedad, particularmente sobre sus formas de contagio y prevención. Existen miedo al contagio, inseguridad, sentimientos de control de la sexualidad y por lo tanto, los jóvenes consideran ciertos componentes de valoración moral particularmente cuando se refieren a observar conductas basadas en relaciones de fidelidad o a la misma abstinencia. Si bien es cierto que los estudiantes consideran que el SIDA no es una enfermedad exclusiva de homosexuales y trabajadoras del sexo, continúan pensando que estos son los grupos de mayor riesgo. Por otro lado, los varones entrevistados en esta muestra atribuyen una alta importancia al riesgo de contraer la enfermedad cuando se trata de evaluarla como un problema de salud pública que los aqueja. Su segunda preocupación es el consumo de drogas. Para las mujeres la preocupación central está basada en la amenaza de embarazo, lo que demuestra una clara estructura de género referida a su papel como procreadoras de la vida. Se observa que los medios de comunicación, así como las estrategias de información empleadas hasta ahora, han tenido un nivel de influencia aún limitado que no tiene un impacto específico en la representación social de la pandemia que lleve a tomar mayor conciencia respecto a la enfermedad y que induzca comportamientos de protección. Conclusiones. La actitud de los entrevistados frente a la pandemia es de distanciamiento y de poca o nula apropiación de este problema. Asimismo, existen miedo al contagio, inseguridad, sentimientos de control de la sexualidad y un sistema de valores que interfiere con su propia libertad, cuando se refieren a conductas basadas en relaciones de fidelidad o la misma abstinencia. Estos dos registros constituyen la plataforma subjetiva en la que los jóvenes actúan y donde se puede concluir que los medios de comunicación así como las estrategias de información empleadas hasta ahora, han puesto mayor énfasis en cierto cambio de actitudes y ofrecido una información que no influye de manera específica en la representación social del SIDA ni promueve comportamientos de protección. Es indispensable definir estrategias que consideren los elementos subjetivos y emocionales que están operando fuera de la actitud frente al SIDA; no basta con la evidencia de los resultados, es fundamental considerar el proceso y el mecanismo mediante el cual se ha optado por cierto tipo de actitudes que no alcanzan a modificar la estructura representativa que finalmente es la que conforma los sistemas de comportamiento colectivo.<hr/>Abstract: The AIDS phenomenon by its own characteristics represents an object of study that requires a múltiple approach and treatment with various methodologies. By its own nature it propitiates a number of emotions, behaviors and attitudes linked to different social representation registers from the different groups, thus allowing to delineate this phenomenon through assessments and stigmatized moral judgments that structure specific practices towards AIDS. To analyze a social representation implies to acknowledge the social behavior as a system by consensus of social groups, where diverse representational systems are articulated. A social representation is a social-cognitive mental process through which collectives explain their reality, cover it with affective elements, and give it a coherent meaning in thought structure. Objective. To find the social representation about AIDS that college young students from the State of Morelos have built, and also to find the media impact on this representation. Method. Four hundred students from a public university, aged between seventeen and twenty five, participated. An open ended questions and multiple choice questions questionnaire was used. It was self administered. Participants gave informed consent. The questionnaire was organized in three main areas: social representation of AIDS; sexual practices; and media and AIDS. Analysis was made according to each of the defined categories. Two kinds of analysis were done: quantitative, for the multiple choice questions, using the statistical computer program SPSS; and evaluative-qualitative for the open ended questions, using the computer program ALCESTE, complemented with an analysis of contents. Results. Two interaction ambits were found in the symbolic construction of AIDS: one end of its representation is defined by specialized knowledge; the other by a common sense knowledge about the illness, particularly about its contagion and prevention. Fear of contagion, insecurity, and feelings of sexuality control are present and, therefore, certain moral assessment components are considered, particularly when refering to behaviors based on faithfulness or even on abstinence itself. Even if it is true that students don't consider AIDS as an illness exclusive of homosexuals and sexual service workers, they still think that these are the groups in highest risk of contagion. On the other hand, males interviewed in this sample give high importance to the risk of contagion when it comes to evaluate AIDS as a public health problem that concerns the young. Their second worry is drug use. For women, the main concern is based on the risk of pregnancy, which shows a clear gender structure related to their role as procreators. These registers constitute the subjective platform from which young people build their representations. It can be observed that the media, and the information strategies used to date, have had a still limited influence level which hasn't hit the social representation of this pandemic in a way to create specifically a greater awareness about the illness and to induce protective behaviors. Conclusions. The young people's attitude towards the pandemia is to keep distant and it shows an almost null level of involvement regarding this problem. Also, they report fear of contagion, insecurity, feelings of sexuality control and a scale of values that interferes with their own freedom when it comes to behaviors based on faithfulness or on abstinence itself. These two registers constitute the subjective platform on which young people act and where it can be concluded that the media, like the information strategies used to date, have emphasized a change of attitude and given information which have no influence on the social representation of AIDS in a way to induce protective behaviors. It is essential to define strategies that consider subjective and emotional elements that operate outside the attitude towards AIDS. It is not enough to remain with the evidence of these results. It is of uttermost importance to consider the process and mechanisms through which a certain kind of attitudes have been chosen as those that prevail are not enough to modify the representational structure that, in the end, sets up the collective behavior systems. <![CDATA[Conductas alimentarias de riesgo e imagen corporal de acuerdo al índice de masa corporal en una muestra de mujeres adultas de la ciudad de México]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: Studies conducted in adolescent and young women have showed that body image perception and dissatisfaction are highly related with risk eating behaviors, particularly with compensatory behaviors. It has also been found that these women tend to overestimate their body size, showing more dissatisfaction. Many studies on eating disorders have been developed in adolescents, but, what happens with adult women? Adult women show periods of pregnancy, nursing, menstrual disorders and, a decrease in physical activity and, at the psychological level there is a lack of emotional stability and depression. These episodes in general, have influence in feeding and body image, that could lead to risky eating behaviors (restricted dieting, fasting, skipping meals among others) affecting directly the state of health, because latter they can develop into eating disorders. Undoubtedly, inadequate feeding can cause malnutrition and nutrimental deficiencies, provoking physiological alterations such as osteoporosis, anemia or hypokaliemia, and also, somatic complications during pregnancy, including abortions and low weight in the new born. Objective. To determine the relationship between body mass index (BMI), risky eating behaviours, body perception and body dissatisfaction in Mexican adult women from 25 to 45 years of age in Mexico City. Methods. A non probabilistic sample of 659 women from 25 to 45 years of age (X=38.27; SD=4.4) was used. To collect the sample, an area of the Questionnaire for Health and Feeding called scale of risk factors associated to eating disorders (EFRATA) and body image was used. This is a self-report questionnaire, validated for this population. Its main purpose is to measure risk eating behaviors and body image. Questions refer to risky eating behaviors (binge eating, compensatory behaviors, restricted dieting, preoccupation about weight and figure), with 4 answering options: 1) Never, 2) Sometimes, 3) Frequently, and 4) Always. Body Image was measured through two dimensions: (a) Body perception was measured through five specific items and (b) Body dissatisfaction was measured with a nine body figure scale, from thin to obese. The BMI was obtained from weight and height self-report (BMI=kg/m2). Self report measures of weight and height have been found reliable; as there is a high correlation with data taken directly, the difference between them is 1.14 kg/m2, which does not interfere significantly. The cut points recommended by the Expert Committee (OMS), are: low weight from 15 to 18.5; normal weight from 18.51 to 24.99; overweight from 25 to 29.99; obesity from 30 to 39.99 and morbid obesity higher than 40. Results. Body Mass Index distribution of the sample was: 1.1% low weight, 53.6% normal weight, 32.3% overweight, 12.4% obesity, and 0.6% of women were morbidly obese. Body perception distribution was: 0.9% very thin, 15.3% thin, 44.4% normal, 32.6% overweight and 6.8% obese. Results related to body dissatisfaction, showed that more than % of the sample was dissatisfied; 70.1% of the women were dissatisfied with their body image and wanted to be thinner and, 8.7% wanted to gain weight. It was found that a large percentage of women (79%) are dissatisfied with their body image. From this percentage 70.1 wanted to be thinner and, 8.7% wanted to gain weight. As to the relationship between BMI distribution and body dissatisfaction it was found that 14% of underweight and 54.2% normal weight women want to be even thinner. The findings of the study showed that women with higher BMI, displayed more risky eating behaviors. Women with overweight and obesity displayed the higher percentages in binge eating. A Pearson correlation was carried out to look for significant differences between BMI, risky eating behaviors and the two dimensions of body image (perception and dissatisfaction). Results indicated that BMI was significantly correlated with binge eating, body dissatisfaction and body image perception. Discussion. This study supported important information about the relation between BMI and risky eating behaviors in Mexican adult women. The most important result was to confirm the presence of disordered eating typical of eating disorders among adult women. Even though the data obtained do not demonstrate the diagnosis of an ED, it shows the presence of some of the characteristic symptoms, which means that these are commonles found among the general population. Although isolated symptoms are not a necessary indicator of the development of the disease, in a way they point out the individuals who are at risk of threatening their physical and mental health. On the other hand, one of the risks that adds to this particular population is the fact that all of them are mothers, as some research findings have confirmed the relationship between the mother's eating behaviors and the appearance of eating disorders in their children. The results obtained in this research show that the BMI of the sample tends to be in the overweight (32.3%) and obese ranges (13%). These results agree with those of the National Nutrition Survey of 1999, were 52.5% of the women were classified as overweight or obese (30.8% as overweight and 21.7% as obese). These scores are important not just because they favor chronic-degenerative diseases, but also because of the great association between overweight and obesity with risky eating behaviors, something that could be confirmed in this study, as individuals with higher BMI, displayed more risky eating behaviors. The results of this study have consistently supported the positive relationship between BMI, binge eating, body dissatisfaction and body image perception, although group differences attributed to age were not statistically significant. Finally, another important contribution of this study, is the use of a reliable and valid multidimentional questionnaire developed in Mexico, specifically designed for the study of two very complex issues such as risky eating behaviors and body image. The main limitations of the study were that the findings were primarily based on self-report data and the use of a non-probabilistic sample of Mexican adult women. <![CDATA[La importancia del apoyo social para el bienestar físico y mental de las mujeres reclusas]]> resumen está disponible en el texto completo<hr/>Abstract: Introduction. Social support has been useful as a key axis for different approaches on how positive human relations and social networks help the individual to achieve states of relative well-being and overcome stressful events which they have to cope with in their lives. This is particularly important in the case of imprisoned women, who generally lack social support, since many of them are abandoned by their relatives and friends with the consequent impact that this has on their physical and emotional well-being. Support from family and friends during imprisonment can imply an enormous difference in the living conditions of imprisoned women. It has been proved that the social support individuals receive through their social networks is a key factor for their well-being, specially at times of stress, transition or crisis, and protects them from the emergence of physical and psychic disorders. For these reasons, the objective of this article is to identify the main sources of social support in convicted women at two penitentiary centers in Mexico City and to determine whether the presence or absence of social support has an impact on their physical and mental well-being. Method. This is a descriptive field study carried out at two women's prisons in Mexico City: The East Preventive Center for Women and the Tepepan Center of Social Readjustment for Women. The type of sampling was non-probabilistic and selected by convenience. The final sample comprised of a total of 212 women. This study included current and lifetime female abusers of alcohol, tobacco and drugs, aged between 18 and 65, who could read and write. The exclusion criteria used were having a psychiatric disorder or a physical disability that would prevent them from completing the interview. The instrument used for compiling the information was a semi-structured interview consisting of 62 pages on various areas from the lives of female prisoners. The following sections of the questionnaire were analyzed for this article: a) sociodemographic characteristics, b) social networks, c) depression, and d) perception of physical and emotional health. The procedure followed to gather information on the female prisoners began with the establishment of an agreement with the General Administration of Prevention and Social Readjustment of the Federal District. Through this agreement, the mental health team, comprising psychiatrists, psychologists and anthropologists -previously trained in the use of a structured interview-, were granted access to the correctional facility. The interviews were carried out after the women had given their informed consent and told of the objectives of the study. The interviews lasted two hours on average, although on some occasions they took up to four sessions of two hours. The field work lasted two years. Results. Socio-demographic profile: The majority of the interviewees were under 40 years old (84%). They had low schooling (with only 41% having completed elementary school), were unmarried (48.6%), and most of them did not live either with a partner or an offspring (40.5%). A total of 58.6% had left home when they were young and nearly 40% lived on the streets. Before being admitted to the institution, they had been shopkeepers (29.5%), employees (21.9%), housewives (13.8%), manual workers(7.1%) and informal workers (5.7%). Contact with relatives and friends in the past month: A high number of the women in prison reported not having received any visits during the past month, with only a small percentage receiving daily visits. Almost 60% of the women declared not receiving any visits from significant figures, such as their partners or children. Frequency of visits and perception of physical and mental health: A third of the women rated their physical and mental health as not so good. When frequency of visits was linked to the women's perception of health, it was found that women, who had not received any visits over the past month, tended to evaluate their physical health more negatively (bad-mediocre) than those who received visits (43.5% versus 38.5%). A similar percentage was observed in the evaluation of their mental health (47.8% versus 45.3%). Frequency of visits and depression: When relating the frequency of visits to the presence and/or absence of depression, it was found that women who had not received visits during the past month experienced more depressive episodes (72.7% versus 61.1%). Nevertheless, these differences were not significant. Discussion. One of the most outstanding aspects observed in this study was the high level of abandonment suffered by the inmates, which confirms findings from other studies about women being abandoned by their loved ones more often than men after commiting a crime. The study found that in terms of accessibility, the physical location of penitentiary centers, is not a factor that fully explains the abandonment suffered by these women, since most of the inmates' relatives and friends live in the same city and even in the same neighborhood where the penitentiary center is located. A high presence of present depressive episodes was also observed in female prisoners, both among those who reported receiving visits and those who did not. A possible answer here is that imprisonment itself is a highly stressful event for those undergoing it and the support received from relatives and friends is not enough to offset the effects of confinement. Conclusions. The results of this study indicate there is a certain positive association between the social support female prisoners received from relatives and friends and their physical and mental well-being. Nevertheless, this cannot be considered a causal relationship, a conclusion which agrees with other reports regarding the positive influence of social support on prisoners' well-being. However, it is also suggested that this is a complex relation that must be investigated more in depth, since this support does not necessarily has the same effect on all individuals. One of the main recommendations deriving from these results is the need to make prisoners' relatives aware of the importance of promoting and maintaining a continuous and permanent contact with them, since this type of support usually brings about an enormous benefit for their physical and emotional well-being. It is also necessary for penitentiary institutions to reconsider the suspension of visits as a means of punishment and control, since this entails a series of negative consequences for the internal population and the institution itself.