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Steele, M. Steele, H. Beebe, B. (2017). Applying an attachment and microanalytic lens to “embodied mentalization”: Commentary on “Mentalizing homeostasis: the social origins of interoceptive inference” by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris. Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):59-66.

(2017). Neuropsychoanalysis, 19(1):59-66

Applying an attachment and microanalytic lens to “embodied mentalization”: Commentary on “Mentalizing homeostasis: the social origins of interoceptive inference” by Fotopoulou and Tsakiris

M. Steele, H. Steele and B. Beebe

Fotopoulou and Tsakiris in their target paper offer a theoretical and methodological corrective in their argument for the need to reclaim the physical body of the individual for a fuller understanding of the origins and maintenance of the sense of a unified, regulated, relational self. While we share their injunctive to mindfully not throw out the baby (or body of the baby) with the ‘cognitive/ symbolic/ representational’ bath water, nevertheless we also argue for the inclusion of all that has been gained from the study of representational processes in the parent’s mind, including mentalization or reflective functioning, and the intergenerational data this work has spawned. We also argue for the relevance of careful microanaltyic observations of young infants and their caregivers, and attention to what has been gained from decades of research on this interactive process which is crucial to the development of the self and the emergence of infant-caregiver attachment patterns. In brief, three topics occupy this commentary as foci for future research: (1) links between embodied mentalization and its connection to mental representations of attachment; (2) implications for the intergenerational transmission of body representations; and (3) the specificity afforded by including the microanalytic literature on mother-infant interaction, permitting an enriched view of the origins of embodied mentalization.

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