Emotion Regulation and Mentalization in Somatoform Disorders

  • Claudia Subic-Wrana


Alexithymia, characterized by deficits in the awareness and differentiation of emotional states, is hypothesized as underlying somatoform disorders. Mentalization as a construct investigated in cognitive psychology is defined as the ability to refer mental states of others in order to predict their behavior. Developmental psychologists claim that the ability to represent emotions mentally is the cornerstone for the emergence of mentalizing capacity. Therefore, linking alexithymia and mentalization, it is argued that patients with somatoform disorders may not only be hampered in their ability to be consciously aware of their emotions, but may also suffer from deficits in mentalizing capacity and, therefore, may be impaired in their understanding of social interaction. Clinical observations and empirical evidence that support this hypothesis are reviewed.


Insecure Attachment Borderline Personality Disorder Adverse Childhood Experience Emotional Awareness False Belief Task 
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Copyright information

© Springer New York 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and PsychotherapyUniversity of MainzMainzGermany

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