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date: 24 February 2021

Abstract and Keywords

An outline of the developmental origins of mentalizing and its relevance to borderline personality disorder is provided. Mentalizing, a capacity to understand intentions of oneself and others in terms of mental states, develops in the context of attachment relationships. Disruption of the attachment relationship due to psychological trauma leads to a vulnerability in adulthood to a loss of mentalizing in the context of interpersonal interaction, which is a core problem for people with borderline personality disorder. Treatment requires a focus on mentalizing, and mentalization-based treatment has been developed with the aim of helping patients improve their ability to maintain mentalizing in the face of emotional stimulation in the context of close relationships. The treatment has been subjected to research trials and shown to be effective in reducing many of the symptoms of borderline personality disorder when implemented by generic mental health professionals with limited specialist training.

Keywords: mentalizing, psychodynamic, borderline, attachment, psychotherapy

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