The interest in mentalization as a concept has been steadily on the rise over the last decades. Mentalization and mentalization-based theory aimed at collecting different schools of thought and years of research, and by doing that has succeeded in describing complex phenomena in relation to interaction between people – both when it is successful and when high emotional arousal prevents the ability to mentalize.
The shocking events, misinformation, betrayals, and back-stabbings of the last month suggest what a thoroughly divided nation we are. We are split along class and education lines in a way Continental Europeans can’t really appreciate. Those I have spoken to recently about Brexit – Dutch, Danish, French and Germans – are both shocked that we sacrificed our position in Europe and outraged by the resignations of the three main players and the ‘business-as-normal’ attitude in our public life.
As is well known, each specialist approaches his patients concentrating on his particular field of work. If his investigations result negative, he can only try to reassure the patient or, if considered appropriate, refer him/her to another specialist – where the same clinical principles will be followed. General practitioners, paediatricians and various other specialists will often find themselves struggling with children or adolescents who present physical complaints that do not respond to words of reassurance or to multiple treatment attempts, even though all laboratory investigations fail to identify any underlying physical abnormality. My new book, The Language of Distress, describes a particular approach to such cases, where the consultation led to the finding that the response given by the parents to their child’s symptoms was, in fact, perpetuating their presence.
Lonely, isolated, unwanted, mocked, shunned, rejected, denigrated, despised, ostracized, misunderstood and friendless: stringing together so many negative adjectives may seem a little bit exaggerated – but that’s exactly the point I am trying to make. My recent book, Asperger’s Children: Psychodynamics, Aetiology, Diagnosis, and Treatment shows how Asperger’s children have exactly these kinds of negatively ‘exaggerated’ perceptions and feelings. Adjectives like these have been applied to these children many times over the years. This is the way they most frequently describe and experience themselves. Their inner experience of the social world can with few exceptions be summarized in three words – untrustworthy, unjust and unfair.
Therapy with Infants outlines a form of psychotherapy aimed at infants and young children who have experienced traumatic events before the age of three. With inspiration from French therapists, the specific method was developed by the book’s authors, Inger Thormann and Inger Poulsen, who discuss here the origins and key themes of the work. Both are experienced therapists who have practiced in private and public settings for more than twenty years.
Therapeutic work with children, young people and their families in private practice can be complex and challenging while differing significantly from therapeutic work in other contexts, such as education or CAMHS.
I would like to invite you to delve right in and explore the enigma of the art of couplehood and happiness. You may find you are one of those people who succeed in the practice of this universal art, or alternatively, discover you may resist it, unwittingly blemishing or spoiling your relationships with your children or spouse, or even with your co-workers, when part of a team.