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Psychiatry. 2011 Spring;74(1):49-57. doi: 10.1521/psyc.2011.74.1.49.

The role of mentalization in the psychoanalytic treatment of chronic depression.

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University of Kassel in Germany.


Mentalization has been proposed as a key concept in understanding therapeutic change in patients with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). However, little is known about mentalization in chronic depression. This study investigated the role of mentalization in the long-term psychoanalytic treatment of chronic depression. Mentalization measured with the Reflective Functioning Scale (RFS) was examined in patients with chronic depression (n = 20) in long-term psychoanalytic treatment and compared to healthy controls (n = 20). Results show that global RF scores did not differ significantly between patients and controls. However, depressed patients tended to have lower RF scores concerning issues of loss. Furthermore, RF was unrelated to symptoms and distress as assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the SCL-90. RF did not predict therapeutic outcome as measured with the BDI but predicted changes in general distress after 8 months of psychoanalytic treatment as measured by the SCL-90. Moreover, correlations between RF and the Helping Alliance Questionnaire indicated that patients with higher RF were able to establish a therapeutic alliance more easily compared to patients with low RF.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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