Introduction: Building upon the London Parent-Child Project (Fonagy et al., 1991), the study of mentalization processes expanded broadly over the past twenty years. Nevertheless, studies have mainly focused on early childhood and preschool age therefore exploring the effects of those processes on the child's psychological and psychopathological outcomes. However, mentalizing abilities may also play a leading role in subsequent periods such as middle childhood that has been understudied in attachment-based studies despite the significant changes at this stage affecting the child and his family. Finally, most of the studies have dealt exclusively with the mother-child relationship leaving out the possible role played by father’s mentalizing. For this reason, the main purpose of this doctoral dissertation is to explore child’s psychological functioning and both maternal and paternal mentalizing during middle childhood by means of the following operationalizations of parental mentalization: Parental Insightfulness (Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2002) and Parental Reflective Functioning (PRF; Slade, 2005). More particularly, the specific aims of this dissertation were organized into the three chapters as follows: (I) the presentation of the first data concerning the Insightfulness Assessment (IA; Oppenheim & Koren-Karie, 2002) in an Italian community sample; (II) the exploration of the role of both maternal and paternal mentalizing on child’s psychological outcomes (i.e., internalizing and externalizing symptoms and social-emotional competencies) and (III) on levels of parenting stress and co-parenting alliance. Method: A non-experimental cross-sectional design involving a convenience sample consisting of 87 parents and their 50 children 8-12 years of age was used. The sample completed the Insightfulness Assessment Procedure to assess Parental Insightfulness while Parental Reflective Functioning was assessed with the Parental Reflective Functioning Questionnaire. Children’s mentalizing abilities were assessed applying to the Child Attachment Interview the Child and Adolescent Reflective Functioning Scale. And finally, parent- and self-report questionnaires were used to evaluate child’s psychological outcomes, and parenting stress and co-parenting alliance levels. Results: The main results show the important role played by parental mentalization on both child’s psychological outcomes and parental variables. The data highlight the relation between parental mentalization and both child’s externalizing and internalizing symptoms and social-emotional competencies. A further element to be considered concerns the intergenerational transmission which indicates Parental Insightfulness as an indirect predictor of child's psychological outcomes through the mediational role of child's mentalizing abilities. Finally, these findings emphasize the connection between parental mentalization and parenting stress. More uncertain results were instead found regarding co-parenting alliance. Discussion: Overall, the results are discussed within the attachment framework underlining the importance of considering mentalizing processes and showing the need for further studies that investigate their implications especially in relation to: (1) a multi-method approach for investigating the construct; (2) a wider involvement of the father figure and (3) the relevance that mentalizing processes have within the parent-child interactions also considering evidence-based mentalization-oriented interventions to strengthen positive dynamics within the family system.
|Titolo della tesi:||Mentalizzazione genitoriale, funzionamento psicologico ed esiti psicopatologici nel bambino nell’ambito della middle childhood.|
|Data di discussione:||8-set-2021|
|Appare nelle tipologie:||Tesi di dottorato|