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Whitehead, C.C. (2009). Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis Elliot L. Jurist, Arietta Slade, and Sharone Bergner New York, Other Press, 2008, 454 pp., $28.00. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 37(4):723-726.
(2009). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 37(4):723-726
Mind to Mind: Infant Research, Neuroscience, and Psychoanalysis Elliot L. Jurist, Arietta Slade, and Sharone Bergner New York, Other Press, 2008, 454 pp., $28.00
Review by: Clay C. Whitehead, M.D.
Mentalization, the process through which we learn about the minds of ourselves and others, has become popular in psychoanalysis. In Mind to Mind we find an excellent summary of progress in that field by some of its most authoritative contributors. In addition, we learn of the theoretical debates and clinical achievements which surround these important and transitional ideas after nearly two decades of progress.
Freud's metapsychological assumption split the mind and brain, setting the stage for decades of acrimony between behavioral and learning theorists on one hand, and the psychoanalytic champions of insight on the other. In the 1970s, with the increasing obsolescence of the classical model, new paradigms began to appear. Mentalization has been among the most important of these new perspectives.
In Chapter 1, Fonagy and Target trace the intellectual origins of mentalization to French clinicians working with individuals suffering from poor ego development and alexethymia. Contributions from American philosophers of mind have also been important. Fonagy and his colleagues also found problems with reality testing and boundary formation among traumatized and borderline patients. This work pointed toward the necessity of understanding the self and others as a collection of symbolic representational systems which seem to be associated with certain brain anatomy. These areas, suggested by recent neuroscience, include the middle prefrontal area, the posterior superior temporal sulcus and temporo-parietal junction, the amygdala, and the temporal poles.
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