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Bouchard, M. Target, M. Lecours, S. Fonagy, P. Tremblay, L. Schachter, A. Stein, H. (2008). Mentalization in Adult Attachment Narratives: Reflective Functioning, Mental States, and Affect Elaboration Compared. Psychoanal. Psychol., 25(1):47-66.

(2008). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 25(1):47-66

Mentalization in Adult Attachment Narratives: Reflective Functioning, Mental States, and Affect Elaboration Compared

Marc-André Bouchard, Ph.D., Mary Target, Ph.D., Serge Lecours, Ph.D., Peter Fonagy, Ph.D., Louis-Martin Tremblay, BSC, Abigail Schachter, Ph.D. and Helen Stein, Ph.D.

Relationships between three measures of mentalization (reflective function, mental states, and verbal elaboration of affect), attachment status, and the severity of axis I and axis II pathology were examined. Seventy-three adults, both ex-psychiatric patients and nonclinical volunteers were administered the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI). Comparisons between the three measures indicate that they share some aspect of a core mentalization process and that each illuminates a specific component. Reflective function was the only predictor of attachment status. The number of axis I diagnoses is partly explained by attachment insecurity, but the capacity to generate high-level defensive mental

states as well as increments in verbal affect elaboration further contribute to the model. Finally, increments in affect elaboration, as well as augmentations in high-level defensive activity and reflective function are all associated with decreases in the number of axis II diagnoses, over and above the contribution of attachment status and axis I pathology.

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