Seidenfaden & Draiby

Mentalizing or mentalization is a learned capacity as well as a process. For us, this concept constitutes a milestone in modern developmental psychology as well as in contemporary psychotherapy. Mentalization therefore has become the theoretical as well as the clinical foundation for Relationship Focused Therapy.

The basis of what we now call the psychology of Mentalization are the concepts developed in attachment research primarily by Bowlby, Ainsworth, and Main. Bowlby percieved attachment as the ‘goal’ for human development. Fonagy, one of the founders of “The London School”, is also the primary theoretician behind the concept of Mentalization. Fonagy perceives attachment as a prerequisite, a stepping-stone for the development of Mentalization, which in his thinking is the ultimate developmental goal. Attachment provides the relational basis for this development, in which secure attachment patterns optimally facilitate the full development of the capacity of Mentalizing. This is the theoretical basis of Mentalization-based Psychotherapy.

Mentalizing is defined by the ability to create ideas about, understand, and reflect upon our own mental states as well as the states of others and also to regard our own and others’ actions as related to mental states. Our ability to mentalize, also called our reflective functioning or our ability to form Acknowledging Intimacy vary and is especially vulnerable to stress. The most centrally relevant of the concept of Mentalizing is that it includes insight into our own as well as the mental states of others, encompassing cognitive as well as emotional aspects connecting mental states with their related actions.

The concept of Mentalization is fully rooted in scientific research and connects the attachment-based Developmental Psychology, Narrative theory and method to Affective Neuroscience.




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See also

Methods and Values.

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