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Aiello, T. (2009). Commentary on Dr. Lucente's Case. Psychoanal. Soc. Work, 16(2):100-104.
   

(2009). Psychoanalytic Social Work, 16(2):100-104

Commentary on Dr. Lucente's Case

Theresa Aiello

I would like to congratulate Dr. Lucente on his truly masterly, comprehensive treatment of an older adolescent. In scope and breadth, Dr Lucente has managed to incorporate and integrate more traditional psychoanalytic theory with contemporary attachment theory and research in his deft treatment of a troubled young man. At one of the more recent attachment research conferences, it was said that attachment research and its burgeoning theoretical development will become the focus for all psychodynamic theorists. It seems that attachment theory and research will be the “one ring to rule them all and one ring to bind them.”

Perhaps one of the most salient concepts of attachment is that of “mentalization.” “Mentalization is the process by which we realize that having a mind mediates our experience of the world. Mentalization is intrinsically linked to the development of the self, to its gradually elaborated inner organization and to its participation in human society” (Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, & Target, 2004, p. 3). Mentalization and reflective functioning are intimately and deeply connected to the development of both a sense of agency and of representational aspects of the self. I believe that this concept has begun to take root as the very center of operations of psychotherapy itself.

In this paper, Dr. Lucente utilizes mentalization, reflective functioning, and the widening scope of cognitive neuroscience in relation to an expansive conception of attachment. (Indeed, in a tour de force he describes his own and his client's neuropaths to connection in integrating feeling states, recognition, and ultimately therapeutic change.)

Fonagy (2001) cites Edith Jacobson's writings as among the psychoanalytic precursors to the concept of mentalization. With her focus on self and object representation units, Jacobson was among the first to speak about “representation” of self and other.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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