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The Theory of Thinking and the Capacity to Mentalize: A Comparison of Fonagy's and Bion's Models

  • Carla Mantilla Lagos (a1)

Abstract

This paper presents a comparison of two psychoanalytic models of how human beings learn to use their mental capacities to know meaningfully about the world. The first, Fonagy's model of mentalization, is concerned with the development of a self capable of reflecting upon its own and others' mental states, based on feelings, thoughts, intentions, and desires. The other, Bion's model of thinking, is about the way thoughts are dealt with by babies, facilitating the construction of a thinking apparatus within a framework of primitive ways of communication between mother and baby. The theories are compared along three axes: (a) an axis of the theoretical and philosophical backgrounds of the models; (b) an axis of the kind of evidence that supports them; and (c) the third axis of the technical implications of the ideas of each model. It is concluded that, although the models belong to different theoretical and epistemological traditions and are supported by different sorts of evidence, they may be located along the same developmental line using an intersubjective framework that maintains tension between the intersubjective and the intrapsychic domains of the mind.

Este artículo muestra la comparación entre dos modelos psicoanalíticos que dan cuenta de cómo los seres humanos alcanzan la posibilidad de usar sus capacidades mentales para conocer y comprender el mundo de un modo significativo. De un lado, el modelo de la mentalización de Fonagy se preocupa por el desarrollo de un sí mismo (self) capaz de reflexionar sobre los estados mentales propios y los de los demás, en términos de pensamientos, sentimientos y deseos. De otro lado, el modelo del pensamiento de Bion, se refiere al modo por el cual el bebé lidia con los pensamientos, y posibilita la construcción de un aparato para pensarlos y acceder a un entendimiento emocional de los mismos, dentro de un marco de comunicación primaria con la madre. Ambos modelos son comparados a través de tres ejes: (a) los antecedentes filosóficos y teóricos, (b) el tipo de evidencia, y (c) las implicaciones para la técnica psicoanalítica. Aunque ambos modelos pertenecen a diferentes tradiciones teóricas y epistemológicas, se concluye que las capacidades para pensar y mentalizar podrían ser ubicadas al interior de una misma línea de desarrollo. Para ello, es necesario utilizar un marco de referencia intersubjetivista, que sostenga la tensión entre los dominios intersubjetivos e intrapsíquicos de la mente.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence concerning this article should be sent to Carla Mantilla Lagos, Calle Roma 148, 401 Lima 18, Perú. E-mail: cmantil@pucp.edu.pe

References

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The Theory of Thinking and the Capacity to Mentalize: A Comparison of Fonagy's and Bion's Models

  • Carla Mantilla Lagos (a1)

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