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Mollon, P. (2003). Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self, by Peter Fonagy, György Gergely, Elliot L. Jurist, Mary Target. New York: Other Press, 2002, 578 pp... Psychoanal Q., 72(4):1045-1051.

(2003). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 72(4):1045-1051

Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self, by Peter Fonagy, György Gergely, Elliot L. Jurist, Mary Target. New York: Other Press, 2002, 578 pp..

Review by:
Phil Mollon

Many books are interesting, but occasionally one appears that creates in the reader the sense of shock and excitement that arises when novel theorizing is combined with substantial new information. Affect Regulation, Mentalization, and the Development of the Self is such a book.

In recent years, an enormous amount and range of developmental research has emerged—much of it in the field of attachment studies—that is of considerable relevance to the theories and technical practice of psychoanalysis, especially in relation to work with more severely disturbed patients. It is not always easy for analysts to gain access to this research. Fonagy and his colleagues have managed to draw together a vast range of such material, integrating it with innovative theorizing and rich clinical illustration. The theme of the book is the way in which a child comes to represent and think about his or her own mind and those of other people (theory of mind), and the role of this in the sense of self and in the regulation of affect—and the many ways in which these developmental processes can be derailed and distorted.

A crucial concept is that of mentalization: the process by which we realise that having a mind mediates our experience of the world (p. 3). Without this achievement of mentalization, the child does not experience him- or herself as having a mental state, but simply is the mental state.

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