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Bodin, G. (1996). Inhibiting the mentalizing capacities: A defence against anxiety in the interplay of the object and subject. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 19(2):180-195.

(1996). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 19(2):180-195

Inhibiting the mentalizing capacities: A defence against anxiety in the interplay of the object and subject

Gudrun Bodin

This paper describes a phobic patient who inhibited her capacity to mentalize defensively in situations when emotionally overwhelmed. When provoked by anxiety, she used the ‘silencing-method’, not reflecting on her internal world or her relationships. In order to avoid painful thinking, she stopped mentalizing and used practical or physical activities as a psychic retreat from an unpleasant reality. In psychoanalysis, she developed a growing tolerance to conceiving her own mental states However, even after several years of analysis, inhibiting her mentalizing capacities remained her defensive strategy. This paper suggests that phobia could be understood as an intolerance of conceiving mental states, preventing integration of psychic trauma. Improvement of the mentalizing capacities through psychoanalysis makes phobic symptoms fade.

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