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Attachment and borderline personality disorder

Fonagy, P; (2000) Attachment and borderline personality disorder. JOURNAL OF THE AMERICAN PSYCHOANALYTIC ASSOCIATION , 48 (4) 1129 - 1146.

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Abstract

The author outlines his concept of reflective function or mentalization, which is defined as the capacity to think about mental states in oneself and in others, He presents evidence to suggest that the capacity for reflective awareness in a child's caregiver increases the likelihood of the child's secure attachment, which in turn facilitates the development of mentalization in the child. He proposes that a secure attachment relationship offers the child a chance to explore the mind of the caregiver. and in this way to learn about minds; he formulates this model of the birth of the psychological self as a variation on the Cartesian cogito: "My caregiver thinks of me as thinking and therefore I exist as a thinker." This model is then applied to provide insight into some personality-disordered individuals who were victims of childhood abuse. The author proposes (I) that individuals who experience early trauma may defensively inhibit their capacity to mentalize to avoid having to think about their caregiver's wish to harm them; and (2) that some characteristics of severe borderline personality disorder may be rooted in developmental pathology associated with this inhibition. He offers evidence for and some qualifications of this model, and argues that the therapeutic effect of psychoanalysis depends on its capacity to activate patients' ability to evolve an awareness of mental states and thus find meaning in their own and other people's behavior.

Type: Article
Title: Attachment and borderline personality disorder
Location: NEW YORK, NY
Keywords: PSYCHIC REALITY, INFANTS, TODDLERS
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > Div of Psychology and Lang Sciences > Clinical, Edu and Hlth Psychology
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/154967
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