Introduction to mentalization

Anthony W. Bateman and Peter Fonagy

in Mentalization-based Treatment for Borderline Personality Disorder

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print September 2006 | ISBN: 9780198570905
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754456 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Introduction to mentalization

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Mentalizing is the key social-cognitive capacity that has allowed human beings to create effective social groups. Mentalization is acquired in a social context although the predisposition for it must be inherited, just like the propensity for language. As a psychological scientific construct mentalization is not new and several related constructs help in completing a description of the range of phenomena that the application of the concept in a psychotherapeutic context will entail. Our approach assumes that dysfunctions of mentalization not only create major relationship problems but also lead to subjective distress which can result in self-harm and suicidality. The close interface between attachment processes and mentalizing is the key to this. Disturbed relationships both undermine and are undermined by failures of mentalization. We therefore argue that the correction of some of these relational malfunctions can be achieved by assisting patients in the recovery of mentalizing.

Chapter.  3874 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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