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(p. 42) How the engine works: Trust and making sense of each other and ourselves 

(p. 42) How the engine works: Trust and making sense of each other and ourselves
(p. 42) How the engine works: Trust and making sense of each other and ourselves

Dickon Bevington

, Peter Fuggle

, Liz Cracknell

, and Peter Fonagy

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date: 17 April 2021

This chapter lays out AMBIT’s core integrating theory of mentalizing, and the developmental and experimental research evidence supporting it. Mentalizing is a specific (prefrontal cortical) activity of mind, directed at explaining an agent’s (one’s own or another’s) behavior on the grounds of presumed or imagined intentional mental states. The chapter covers evidence from developmental and attachment studies supporting this. The multidimensional nature (automatic–controlled, self–other, internal–external, cognitive–affective) and complexity of this activity is described, as well as the implications when it fails—as it frequently does, given its fragility in the face of anxiety or arousal. Finally, the role of mentalizing in allowing access to learning from another person is explored. It is a powerful ostensive cue, triggering epistemic trust (trust in the social value of information that a helping individual may have to offer). AMBIT is reframed as a systemic application of this theory of communication.

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