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Eckardt, M.H. (2013). Handbook of Mentalizing in Mental Health Practice, edited by Anthony W. Bateman and Peter Fonagy American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington, DC, 2012, 593 pp., $60.16.. Psychodyn. Psych., 41(3):505-509.

(2013). Psychodynamic Psychiatry, 41(3):505-509

Handbook of Mentalizing in Mental Health Practice, edited by Anthony W. Bateman and Peter Fonagy American Psychiatric Publishing, Washington, DC, 2012, 593 pp., $60.16.

Review by:
Marianne Horney Eckardt, M.D.

Reviewing this book was a challenge, as this reviewer was totally unfamiliar with the conceptual territory of “mentalizing.” For the uninitiated, let me call it the study of the functioning of the mind. The book presents both the complex intricate conceptual base of this new psychological approach, as well as a practical guide to the new psychotherapeutic treatment modality, a “mentalization-based treatment,” referred to as MBT. The book is very well organized and is written in a sophisticated, scholarly manner. The conceptual background is intricate, having evolved out of the study of many disciplines, namely, psychoanalysis, psychology, evolutionary psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. It required concentrated, though rewarding, reading. The discussion of the treatment mode is engaging and full of psychotherapeutic wisdom, common sense, and illustrations.

Mentalizing implies a focus on mental states in oneself and others, particularly when explaining behavior. Mental states are beliefs, wishes, feelings, and thoughts. Our feelings, wishes, and thoughts will influence our behavior. Mentalizing is a preconscious imaginative mental activity. We really cannot know another mind; we imagine what other people might be thinking or feeling.

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