Mentalisation

Mentalisation

Mentalisation is a mental process that bridges recognition and attachment theory which is associated with capacity for mentalising. mentalisation allows us to understand human behaviour in terms of intentional mental states (e.g. needs, desires, feelings, beliefs, goals, purposes, and reasons). Peter Fonagy suggests that individuals with disorganised attachment will have poor mentalisation-abilities. Securely-attached individuals tend to have had a primary caregiver who has more complex and sophisticated mentalising abilities so that as children and later they are more able to mentalise their own and other peoples’ mental states. "The whole idea of thinking about thinking is that we learn about ourselves through being understood by other people. Babies learn about their feelings by having their feelings understood (ie recognised (IS))by someone else." (David Wallin) Wikepedia

Trauma

Trauma

A term used to define a single or repeated overwhelming stressful event, such as emotional or physical abuse, violence, loss, severe accidents, environmental events, which alter a person’s psychological condition and in all probability the brain. Such events are not only terrifying and painful, but may lead to ongoing fear of a repetition of the experience. The fear of repetition of the past feelings or events, triggered perhaps by a smell or sound, then “activates” an involuntary response. Trauma often leaves people mentally disorganized and anxious, suffering loss of cognitive functions and normal emotional responses. This is referred to by psychiatry as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder(PTSD), a term now used colloquially as well. In PTSD people can be numb or agitated, masking their symptoms or dysfunctional, but any heightened emotional or physical stress will bring about definite symptoms of fear.

It might be useful and specifically relevant to this discussion to include Freud’s statement that the effect of trauma on a person “shatters the foundations of his (sic) life (as a result of which) he abandons all interest in the present and future and remains permanently absorbed in mental concentration on the past” (1917, Introductory Lectures)

Recognition

Recognition

Recognition that response (from or to) the other which makes one’s own or the other’s feelings, intentions and actions meaningful. It shows that we have had an impact on the other. . It allows the self to realise its agency and authorship in a tangible way. But such recognition can only come from an other whom we, in turn, recognise as person in his or her own right. Recognition is integral to…”differentiation” – the individual’s development as a self that is aware of its distinctness from others. Lack of recognition is associated with victimhood and loss of agency; or dependency on recognition, as Benjamin has discussed, may lead to people engaging in power struggles; ie when people feel their suffering, their point of view, their needs, their value and dignity, or their actions are being denied recognition. Social traumas require social recognition so that people feel their suffering is known, has meaning, and their need for dignity and value is respected. ( Benjamin J.The Bonds of Love: (1988) Pantheon Books. NY.)

Loss

Loss

Bowlby's four stages of Loss observed through studies of attachment; Klein’s integration of loss in the Depressive Position (see above) and Bowlby’s Loss are seen as essential process for integration and healthy emotional development. .

  • numbing that usually lasts from a few hours to a week and may be interrupted by outbursts of extremely intense distress and/or anger.
  • yearning and searching for the lost figure lasting some months or sometimes for years.
  • disorganization and despair.
  • greater or less degree of organization

(Bowlby’s original 3-phase process of Loss was published in "Processes Of Mourning" Int. J. Psycho-Anal. 42:317-40.

Ethical Mindset

Ethical Mindset

The Ethical Mindset with Congruent Behaviours is a concept developed by the Moving Beyond Violence team. The Ethical Mindset facilitates stepping out of denial of destructive collective narratives, and out of violence. This denial refers to the mental roadblocks that prevent us from acknowledging the irreducible humanity of others, overcoming whatever resistance we may have to disqualify difference and thus engaging an Ethical Mindset, accompanied by congruent behaviours.

The MBV multi-stage guided process is designed to explore stepping out of denial and into an Ethical Mindset. The congruent behaviours are those that engage fundamental hospitality and care. They maybe dictates of familial, cultural, religious, or political cultures; the hospitality, protection and care are prerequisites for a safe and just society. Our protagonists’ stories help us identify the internal and external processes which led to their Ethical Mindset. At times of failure the Ethical Mindset may be repaired through Jessica Benjamin’s Moral Third which engages recognition, empathy and a willingness to dialogue in a search for an alternative way.

Empathy

Empathy

Baron-Cohen describes the first stage of empathy as recognition: “empathy occurs when we switch from a single-minded focus of attention to a double-minded focus of attention”. He says we are not only thinking about our own mind, thoughts and perception, but we are keeping in mind someone else’s mind at the very same time. The second stage is to respond to the other’s thoughts and feelings with an appropriate emotion. Baron-Cohen continues:” Empathy makes the other person feel valued, they feel that their thoughts and feelings have been heard, acknowledged and respected” .Baron Cohen explains dehumanisation and evil as the result of ‘zero degrees of empathy’

(Baron -Cohen S: Zero Degrees of Empathy).

Depressive position

Depressive position

(Melanie Klein) The initial depressive position is a significant step in integrative development which occurs when the infant discovers that the hated bad breast and the loved good breast are one and the same. The mother begins to be recognized as a whole object who can be good and bad, rather than two part-objects, one good and one bad. Love and hate, along with external reality and internal phantasy, can now also begin to co-exist. Winnicott found the depressive position in emotional development as an achievement.

Collective narrative

Collective narrative

As with individuals, groups small and large reconstruct their group experience through stories that may become the official collective narrative of the group. Confronting or changing a collective narrative may be difficult simply because so many are invested in it, emotionally or through the power hierarchy. Individuals attempting to create a new version of the collective narrative may induce anxiety in the group and find themselves the objects of group aggression.

Agency

Agency

Agency is the capacity of an agent (a person or other entity, human or any living being in general) to act in a world. The capacity to act does not at first imply a specific moral dimension to the ability to make the choice to act, and moral agency is therefore a distinct concept.