The Role of Mentalization in the Manifestation of Mental Illness
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This paper consists of an analysis of 12 quantitative peer-reviewed empirical studies conducted to shed light on the function of mentalization in the manifestation of mental illness. Mentalization is the cognitive activity that enables people to understand their own and others’ behaviours in terms of mental states such as beliefs, thoughts, feelings, biases, etc. (Bateman & Fonagy, 2004). Results show that mentalization intercedes the relationship between early attachment, childhood adversity, and mental illness such as borderline personality disorder. The findings offer insights to counsellors about how to "kickstart" the mentalizing process by raising awareness of the client’s attachment style and then showing its impact on interpersonal relationships. This is done while the counsellor acts as a secure base and mentalizes the client’s mental states in an accurate and nuanced manner. The author also provides a methodological analysis, ethical considerations, and recommendations for future research.