Mentalization, embodiment and narrative: critical comments on the social ontology of mentalization theory

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  • Allan Køster
Recently, mentalization theory has risen to fame as a theoretical framework emphasising social cognition as a key issue in its approach to psychopathology and psychotherapy. In this paper, I review and criticise the social-ontological assumptions made by mentalization theory, arguing that, in spite of a strong interactive focus, it remains fundamentally rooted in a Cartesian ontology, overlooking embodied, expressive, enactive and sociocultural dimensions of social cognition. Furthermore, since mentalization theory was originally developed as a framework for understanding Borderline Personality Disorder [BPD], I offer a reinterpretation of the issue of social cognition reported in BPD from a more embodied and interactional perspective. Contrary to the received view, I suggest that issues of social cognition in BPD should not necessarily be seen as a partial or total inability to mentalize, but rather as a hyper-sensitivity to expressivity resulting in what I suggest we understand as acts of disnarration.
Original languageEnglish
JournalTheory & Psychology
Pages (from-to)458-476
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2017

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