Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya • ISSN 2075-7999
peer-reviewed • open access journal


2017 Vol. 10 Issue 56

Sokolova E.T. Mentalization disorders in clinical and cultural Vygotsky’s paradigm

Full text in Russian: Соколова Е.Т. Нарушения ментализации в клинической и культурной парадигме Л.С.Выготского

Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

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In the cultural situation of transitivity, the application of interdisciplinary methodology allows integrating concepts and methods of the allied sciences, a variety of description languages and interpretations of the studied phenomenon, opens for reinterpretations of those phenomena, which belong to the field of clinical psychology. In the article, which is offered to the reader, the subject of theoretical revision is the impairment of social cognition, which is well-known in the clinics of borderline personality disorders. The mental representation, or mentalization, as defined by the British psychoanalyst Peter Fonagy, is understood as a form of social cognition, which allows to perceive, imagine and emotionally relate, make sense and causality of what’s happening in a subjective world – of self and another person. Mentalization supposes integration of contextual factors, material and physical aspects of situation and behavior, as well as inner subjective feelings, beliefs, goals and intentional states as representative motives for a given behavior. In the perspective of the cultural-historical theory and methodology by L.S.Vygotsky a new interpretation is offered for the clinical phenomena of mentalization deficit, an understanding is given for transformation of its structure and functions as a consequence of the person’s loss of interpsychic social connections and disintegration of intrapsychic organization of consciousness, impairment of its systemic structure, narrowing and simplification of cross-functional bonds and intrapsychic "mythology". In the result of this double destruction of bonds, ontogenetically early and primitive forms of mentalization are "deflected", isolated and start holding a domineering position in psychic functioning. The process of mentalization regresses to its pre-categorical and cognitive-affective non-differentiated levels and structures (syncretic and complex organization), unfolding involuntarily and unconsciously, lacking meaningful coherence, symbolic mediation and focus for understanding the subjective world – of self and the Other. The unconscious substitution of the psychic picture of the inner world with impulsive actions, hypochondriac and narcissistic fixations, autistic pseudo-mentalization and manipulation is lacking the meaningful and sanguineous dialogue with the Other. The loss of social connections (interpsychic communication), without being mediated by the addressed to the Other speech-dialogue is interiorized into the inner "muteness" – the loss of not only understanding of others, but the interruption of meaningful inner and "worded" dialogue with the self, self-understanding.

Keywords: interdisciplinary methodology, mentalization disorders, cultural-historical theory, methodology by L.S.Vygotsky, syncretic organization, complex organization



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Received 3 October 2017. Date of publication: 27 December 2017.

About author

Sokolova Elena T. Ph.D., Professor, Faculty of Psychology, Lomonosov Moscow State University, ul. Mokhovaya, 11–9, 125009 Moscow, Russia.
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Suggested citation

Sokolova E.T. Mentalization disorders in clinical and cultural Vygotsky’s paradigm. Psikhologicheskie Issledovaniya, 2017, Vol. 10, No. 56, p. 8. (in Russian, abstr. in English).

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