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Altman, N. (2003). Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self Peter Fonagy, Gyorgy Gergely, Elliot L. Jurist, Mary Target New York: Other Press, 2002. 547 pp. £45 ($65). J. Child Psychother., 29(3):431-435.
(2003). Journal of Child Psychotherapy, 29(3):431-435
Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self Peter Fonagy, Gyorgy Gergely, Elliot L. Jurist, Mary Target New York: Other Press, 2002. 547 pp. £45 ($65)
Review by: Neil Altman
This book is a major advance in psychoanalytic developmental theory. On the one hand, the theories of Freud, Mahler, Daniel Stern, Klein, and Bion are revised and extended in the light of the ideas developed in this work. On the other hand, the psychoanalytic developmental tradition is brought together with philosophy, behavioural genetics, cognitive psychology, neuroscience, infancy and child development empirical research, and attachment theory. The work is an integrative tour de force. It performs the valuable function of bringing together many psychoanalytic strands under one roof. Further, the book demonstrates the points of interface between psychoanalysis and other disciplines, placing all these disciplines into a larger integrated framework centring around concepts of mentalization. In the process, many core psychoanalytic concepts are reframed, rethought in a sense, in the context of the new integration proposed here.
This book is so rich with stimulating and novel ideas that no brief review can hope to do them justice. The book's defining project is to highlight the centrality in human development of a sense of mind, yielding both a self as generator of experience, and a sense of others as being, likewise, independent generators of experience. The authors familiarize psychoanalysts with the word ‘mentalization’, imported from developmental psychology, to describe the processes by which experience is reflected upon in terms of mental processes. Mentalizationprocesses are so much at the core of what it means to be human that the authors are led to claim that human ‘attachment is not an end in itself’ (p.
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