Individuals with normal development acquire the ability to interpret and respond to the behavior of self and others. This ability enables the children to read the human minds with the intention of grasping the mental states that underlie their behaviors (Bernier & Dozier, 2003). This capacity enhances various critical accomplishments:
- it enhances the sense of ownership of an individual’s own behavior;
- the ability to empathize, i.e. achieve social reciprocity;
- the capacity to tolerate frustrations and to set goals based on ideas; and
- the ability to symbolize
The capacity to interpret and respond to behavior in such a manner is referred to as mentalization. Mentalization is considered to be a theory because the processes that happen in the mind cannot be established or demonstrated through direct access (Botella et al, 2005). In this regard, it is referred to as the theory of mind. The theory of mind enables individuals to have collaborative relationships with each other. In such relationships individuals are able to establish a balance between their wants or urges and the idealistic and moral standards so as to establish mutually-accommodative connections (Fonagy & Target, 2006).
When the capacity to mentalize is inhibited, individuals lose their ability to establish collaborative relationships with the rest of the society. They, therefore, cannot relate with other humans in a mutually interactive manner (Hoffman, 2004). The expectations of these individuals becomes stereotypical, a situation which further complicates relations. Fortunately, there are various intervention strategies which facilitate the restoration of the capacity to mentalize, for instance, promotion of mismatch and the establishment of secure bases during the child development (Bowlby, 1983).
Effective intervention strategies require a therapist to be endowed with the knowledge of the theory behind the intuitive predictions of human behavior (Bowlby, 1982). Several researchers have assessed the aspects relating to such knowledge, and this has culminated with the establishment of various theories and hypothesis relating to the development of human mind. This paper evaluates some of them including mentalization by Peter Fonagy, the alpha and beta ideas of Alfred Bion, multiple code theory by Willma Bucci, and the theory of personality by Sigmund Freud. Ultimately, the study evaluates the factors that interfere with the capacity to mentalize as well as the interventions to enhance the development of such a capacity.