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How We Read Other People's Minds

Uploaded 4/29/2023, approx. 38 minute read

There are two important personalities in Hungary today.

Pope Francis in real life and Sam Vaknin on RTL television, the FOCUS program, where I discuss the pandemic of loneliness and anxiety. And I do it in flawless Hungarian.

You wish.

Okay, Pope Pervim, the Pope Pervot.

I hope you are as happy as I am. I hope for you that you are not.

And I will discuss today a fascinating topic.

How do we read other people's minds? How do you read other people's minds?

Yes, yes, you do. You read other people's minds all the time.

I'm going to describe the mechanisms behind this mind-reading exercise.

You see, if you were totally unable to read other people's minds, you wouldn't be here to watch this video, which, coming to think of it, might have been a blessing in disguise.

Okay, my name is Sam Vaknin. I'm the author of Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited, and I'm a former visiting professor of psychology and a current professor of finance. Finance is in money, big money.


Okay, first, before you proceed with this video, there's a torture exercise.

You have to watch another video. It's about the unconscious.

Description, link, click, go, go, go.

I explained in that video on the unconscious that a panoply of thinkers and scholars throughout the history of psychology, starting with Freud and ending possibly with Lacan, considered the unconscious to be the repository of other people's signals, messages, values, beliefs, and information.

The unconscious is shaped, according to these scholars, is shaped by other people. It is a reflection of the other in your mind.

So even on this most fundamental level, you have a multiplicity of people populating your mind. Everyone has a hive mind.

And so today we're going to discuss the next layer.

The next layer is the subconscious and conscious.

Subconscious and conscious are also populated with people, other people.

We are relational creatures. We are the outcomes of our interactions with others.

That's why I'm dead set against the concept of a self or an individual divided. There's no such thing as no division. The lines are blurred if there are any boundaries are artificial and ever shifting, especially with mentally ill people, for example, borderlines who have identity disturbance.

So it's all trying to say that we are separate from each other, that each one of us has his or her own trajectory. That's nonsense.

We are a confluence of everything that has happened to us with other people.

We are, but the sum of our relationships, akin to Venn diagrams. We are the intersection of the two circles.

So let's delve right in and begin to discuss how do we read other people's minds?

We are all acquainted with body language cues.

Cues such as facial expressions, micro expressions, dilation of the pupils of the eye, a quivering of the nose.

My favorite voice, the tone of voice, body odors, smells and the invisible molecules that we release when we come across each other and which contain a lot of information about our genetic makeup and our immunological system.

We constantly affect each other in subtle ways, in hidden ways.

Ours is the world of the occult.

And so body language is the tip of an iceberg. It's the overt manifestation of a series of deep set processes, profound processes, that take place all the time, unremittingly, unceasingly, whenever people meet each other.

When a woman crosses the path of a man, regardless of her age, his testosterone production shoots up by 40%, 4-0%.

When women cohabit, their menstrual cycles tend to sink and become coordinated. We influence each other. We are in each other's lives, but also in each other's bodies and definitely in each other's minds.

And the word we use to describe this is empathy.

I recommend that you watch my videos on empathy. I think there are two of them. My videos on empathy.

There's an academic one and then there's a kind of shortened version.

Empathy.

Now empathy relies on a fallacy. It's the fallacy of isomorphism.

If we look alike, it means that we are the same.

This is called isomorphism.

Isomorphism is anxiolytic.

This belief that if we look alike, we are the same reduces anxiety, allows us to function, makes us feel safe.

But it is false nonetheless.

It is false because we do look alike. We are not the same. We are all idiosyncratic.

Serial killers such as Ted Bundy looked completely normal. And yet his victims would tell you he was not.


And then there's the issue of mirror neurons.

Mirror neurons allegedly the seat of empathy, the neurons that fire when we empathize.

When it comes to mental illness, neuroscience is about as valid as astrology or alchemy.

Empathize deals with correlations, is not validated normatively and is grandiosely ill founded.

Out the window goes the nonsense of mirror neurons.

You see empathy is a self-contained internal set of processes.

Empathy is triggered by the presence of and the self-reporting by another person. So that much is true.

You cannot empathize when there's nobody there, nobody else.

Empathy is triggered by the presence of someone else.

But it involves two misperceptions.

Number one, that the internal experience of empathy is actually external.

When we empathize, we get the erroneous feeling, the wrong feeling that we're empathizing because of the other person, that it has to do something with the other person.

It doesn't. It's a hundred percent internal process having been triggered by someone.

Number two, fallacy.

Number two, that the experience of empathy is altruistic somehow.

It is focused on the other person.

When in reality empathy revolves mostly around emotional self-regulation.

Empathy is intended to help us to avoid shame and evade guilt.

We are trained as children in the process of socialization. We are trained to be considerate with other people, to take into account their separateness, their needs, priorities, wishes, fears, etc.

So it's been inculcated in us to feel shame and guilt when we don't, when we are egodystonic, when we pursue only our goals at the expense of others.

This is an internal thing.

To avoid this shame and guilt, to avoid the automatic negative thoughts produced by the cluster of introjects known as conscience.

To avoid this, we develop empathy.

Empathy is a defense and it involves cognitive processing.

Empathy has all the hallmarks of healthy narcissism actually.

At any rate, it's defensive, it's intended to fend off egodystony, the discomfort of having harmed or exploited someone else.


In the description there's a link to an essay I've written about empathy, the latest findings in the field.

Now, empathy aside, how do we read the minds of other people?

Empathy is very misleading because it is utterly internal.

So what we tend to do with empathy, we tend to project our internal environment on someone else.

Of course, we get it wrong most of the time.

The way there are studies that show that the higher your level of empathy, the less well you read other people.

Yes, you heard me correctly. The more empathy you have, the less well you're attuned to other people.

So empathy, because it's internal, because it's a projection, because it's about you, it is you less capable to truly read the minds of other people.

So how do we manage?

How do we manage to read the minds of other people?

There are several processes involved and I'm going to dwell on each and every one of them.


First one is known as intersubjectivity.

Intersubjectivity is the shared perception of reality between two or more individuals.

Of course, it presupposes that we as human beings can have direct knowledge of reality except through our senses, sight, hearing, smell, taste, tactile feeling, etc.

So there is this hidden assumption that through this agreement between humans, between human beings, through this agreement we can somehow learn about reality or at the very least the reality of someone else, which is of course utterly nonsensical.

We have no access to anyone else's mind.

We have to rely 100% on self-reporting and comparisons with past events and our own experience.

It's all speculative, it's all interpolation and extrapolation.

It's all, there's nothing objective about it, nothing positivistic, nothing scientific.

So intersubjectivity is an agreement to delude ourselves and to deceive ourselves into the belief that we have so much in common with other people that we can make safe bets and assumptions about their states of mind, not regarding or apart from their own self-reporting.

We can put aside what they tell us about themselves and we can guess accurately what's really happening, what's the real state of mind, that is, intersubjectivity.

Each individual's reality is necessarily subjective.

It's of course impossible for us to know how someone else perceives the world or even experiences the color red.

We can agree that a certain frequency of light is red, but how do we experience it?

What does love mean to you or to me or to a third party?

When we use language we make the assumption that we are referring, we are signaling the same thing, but of course we never are.

It's all a lie. It's all a lie.

But people still keep assuming that the world and social interactions follow rules and that these rules are somehow like the laws of physics.

They are outside the control or the manipulative ability of any one person or group of people, which is also untrue.

Yet intersubjectivity is useful in reading other people's minds because other people are making exactly the same assumptions.

Because there is a consensus about the assumptions, this homogenizes states of minds and behavior.

Technically, intersubjectivity teaches us nothing about the true state of mind of any other person whatsoever.

But the very existence of an intersubjective consensus or agreement causes all of us to conform to the intersubjective consensus or agreement.

It is intersubjectivity that renders us the same. It's not that it is valid because we are the same. It makes us the same.

And the intersubjective agreement or consensus allows us to coordinate our activities in the expectation that other people share the same agreement and therefore the same welt und schaal, the same view of the world about what is, for example, normal, what is acceptable, what is right, what is healthy, what is expected.

And so intersubjectivity is a contradiction in terms and oxymoron in a way because there's a problem there.

There's a problem to study how people view their world. Neither subjectivity nor objectivity is sufficient to explain the life experiences of any single individual.

It is just artificially imposed on us by the very intersubjective agreement.

We say, for example, he thinks like me or let us assume that he thinks like me. And therefore he's likely to behave this way.

And similarly, your counterparty is thinking the very same.

And so you will end up really acting the way you have expected.

Sociologists study intersubjectivity as an intermediate position that people use to navigate the inaccessibility of other people's minds.

And in the process of intersubjectivity, we need to visualize other people's worlds, other people's realities and other people's minds.

And this is done by a process called mentalization.

Mentalization is very, very akin to scientific investigation. It actually is a theory about other people. And it's known as a theory of mind.

Mentalization is the ability to understand one's own and other people's mental states.

So people who have no access and no insight to their own psychology cannot effectively mentalize, cannot effectively visualize other people's minds, which would explain why in many mental illnesses and disorders there's a problem to interact with other people because you can't somehow figure them out.

There's aphantasia of other people.

And so mentalization is a hallmark and a marker, a psycho-barker of truth and reality and above all mental health.

So when you comprehend your own state of mind, you can then somehow infer other people's intentions, effects, emotions and even cognitions.

This ability, as I said, is the component of healthy personality development. It's achieved through a secure attachment to the parent.


What's the connection between mentalization and a secure attachment or a secure base?

Well, if your mother is capricious, arbitrary, unpredictable, threatening, inaccessible, because she's depressed or narcissistic or what have you, then you are either not able to mentalize her, you're either unable to mentalize her or you are too afraid to mentalize her.

If your mother doesn't regard you as a separate entity, doesn't allow you to develop boundaries and separate an individual from her, how would you ever be able to mentalize anyone?

Mentalization is an integral skill acquired during individuation.

If you're not allowed to separate an individual, you will never be able to mentalize.

So you need good enough parenting, good enough mother in Winnicott's terms and not a dead mother in Andrea Green's terms.

The concept of mentalization is applicable to the understanding and treatment of several mental health disorders and most notably borderline personality disorder.

It's a disorder that is marked also by the inability to mentalize because of poor attachment in early life.

Same goes for narcissistic personality disorder. These people are not able to see other people as separate from them. They internalize external objects as the narcissist does or they merge and fuse with an external object as the borderline attempts to do.

And then if you become one with another person, you can't mentalize that other person. You can't visualize that other person's state of mind because it will have become your state of mind.

Similarly, if you internalize an external object and it becomes a figment of your own imagination and an introject in the garden or the orchard of your mind, then of course this internal object wouldn't have a state of mind and there's no need or ability to mentalize it.

Mentalization- based treatment, MBT, is a psychotherapy. It was developed to address exactly these problems, mentalization deficits.

Initially in patients with borderline personality disorder. MBT attempted to mitigate these deficits, to decrease the problems with mentalization because you see, once you are able to mentalize, once you're able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and no, this is not empathy. This is constructing a scientific theory or a pseudo scientific theory or a quasi scientific theory about another person and then testing this theory, falsifying it, approving it, making predictions and waiting to see if they come true.

So once you've accomplished this, a plethora of other problems are solved, impulse control, affect regulation and so on and so forth, suddenly become much better.

It's the minute you see other people, you really see them. It's very difficult for you, for example, to impulsively hurt them.

Your own emotions are much more regulated because you feel much safer, your anxiety is reduced.

Now mentalization was first what was called reflective functioning.

The famous Hungarian born British psychoanalyst, Peter Fonagy, proposed this term in 1996.

It's a very interesting term because it contains two elements, reflection, the ability to reflect yourself into another person's gaze and see yourself reflected in that gaze, thereby realizing his separateness and your separateness.

So reflection and functioning.

Mentalization is a precondition for function.

The theory of mind is actually a branch of cognitive science and it investigates how we ascribe the mental states to other people and how we use this knowledge or speculation to explain and predict the actions of other people.

Theory of mind is a branch of cognitive science that investigates essentially mind reading, this mentalizing or mentalistic abilities, its capacity to read other people's minds.

The accuracy of mind reading is debatable. Whether it's utterly fantastic or delusional is an open question, but that in mentalization we engage in a deliberate attempt to read other people's minds is indisputable.

We use the information that we glean or we think we glean to actually function. And these skills are shown by all humans beyond a certain age.

Now, mentalization, I mentioned MBT, the mentalization base there, takes into account the fact that other people are like barriers or containers of psychological states and processes which are unobservable.

Of course, even here it's contentious because how do you know that someone else has psychological states? How do you know that there are processes going on in someone else's mind? What about someone in a vegetative state or coma? What about someone who is unconscious? What about someone who is asleep?

It's very, very wild and daring and grandiose assumption to say, "I am absolutely sure that this person that I'm looking at right now has at this very split second going on inside him internal processes and psychological states." It's a very outlier assumption because we can't prove it.

There's no way to prove it.

Maybe it's an android from the future. Maybe it's a robot escape from a laboratory together with another virus.

I mean, what do we know? We don't know anything. We don't know anything. We just see the facade.


How about people with dementia, Cossackoff syndrome, psychotic states? What can we really say about them?

Do they have states of mind? How can you have a state of mind if your memory is never longer than five minutes or 30 seconds in many cases?

It's not that simple.

When we make these assumptions that other people are like us, so they have processes and thoughts and ideas and fears and cognitions and emotions, it's just an obstruction.

It helps us to anticipate and to explain other people's behavior in terms of these states and processes.

In other words, internal processes and mental states are not real. They are language elements.

We process language through them and then create a theory which yields predictions.

These mentalistic abilities are therefore not a part of rigorous psychology. They are known as folk psychology or naive psychology or intuitive psychology, depending on the discipline.

A theory of mind is, to start with, not a very cogent and appropriate term to characterize the whole area, our mentalistic, alleged mentalistic abilities.

Because ab initio, we assume the validity of a specific account of the nature and development of mind-reading.

The view that it depends on the deployment of a theory of mental states, like theories of the physical world.

But a theory of the mind can never be a theory of the physical world. The mind is not a physical entity and can never be reduced to a physical entity.

Watch my other videos. Then psychology will never be a science and its pretensions to science render it a pseudoscience.

This is a subject matter. It's inaccessible.

Subject matter is mutable. The subject matter cannot be studied rigorously. Results cannot be replicated.

There's a replication, a gigantic replication crisis in psychology.

Not because scholars are falsifying or researchers are falsifying results, but because the subject matter can never be the same.

So this view, known as theory theory, that we can construct a theory which will be as valid as a theory of physics, and I am a physicist.

So I mock and deride this kind of approach.

But okay, this theory theory approach is only one of the accounts.

We can think of another way of discussing mind reading or tackling mind reading.


How about mental simulation?

Imagine that what we're doing is modeling, creating models, or creating simulations of other minds inside our mind.

Imagine that you can conceive of our mind as a giant simulator, and we use the mind as an analog model of the mind of the simulated other.

So we simulate the other inside our minds.

It's another approach to mentalization.

And indeed, in the 60s and 70s, the British object relations schools, later followed by attachment theories, more or less came to the same conclusion that we are somehow simulating the world and everyone in it inside our minds, and then interact with this simulation as if it were real or at least as if it were valid, can provide us with some useful tools and insights.

This is not very different to narcissism.

Let's see what the narcissist does.

The narcissist snapshots you, takes a snapshot of you, introjects you, simulates you in his mind, continues to interact with the simulation.

There are major differences between mentalization as simulation and narcissism as simulation, but it does involve healthy narcissism.

So if we go a step further, we could say that we're simulating the entire world and everyone in it.

And this is known as the internal working model of attachment.

According to Bowlby, an internal working model is a mental representation of our relationships with someone, initially with a primary caregiver or primary object, the mother.

And this model, this model, this representation of the relationship becomes a template and all future relationships have to fit into this procrustean bed.

They're shoehorned into this model.

And this template allows individuals to predict, to control and manipulate the human environment.

So this is Bowlby.

We're talking simulation.

It's a central premise of attachment theory.

Bowlby said, and others continued afterwards, watch my videos on attachment theories, Bowlby said that infants learn about ways to relate to other people, ways of relating to other people.

And they learn, they acquire these skills, these skills to have relationships from early interactions with attachment objects.

So the child builds up a set of expectations about himself and himself in relation to others.

On the basis of these first experiences, babies build what Bowlby called an internal working model.

They approach new situations with a prior idea about how they can cope in the face of threat or avoidance or hurt, pain and so on.

Internal working model tells them, informs them what to expect and how to cope with the unexpected.

And this model has three elements according to Bowlby.

It includes the self, it includes the other and it includes the relationship between the self and the other.

I refer you to work by Bretherton as well as Bowlby.

So an infant can have a mother as a primary caregiver. She's devoted, she's with the infant most of the time. She is always responsive to the infant's distress. She's loving and caring and holding.

So this kind of infant will develop an internal working model in which his self is seen as worthy as a good object because it is capable of calling upon the mother for comfort when it's needed and it is then worthy of receiving discomfort, a process known as interpolation, Louis Altwism.

So the mother's very responsiveness in caring and love inform the child that he is a good object, that he is worthy of all this.

And then the child begins to develop an internal working model where the self is healthy, wanted, loved, worthwhile and the other is also good because mother was good, mother was caring, mother was loving.

In the internal working model of such a baby, the other will also be mother-like, maternal in a way.

There will be an expectation that comfort will be given when needed. There will be an expectation that the other person will show concern for the infant's and later adult's state.

So everything is modeled on the initial relationship.

The relationship part of the internal working model includes an expectation of satisfactory resolution of crises and threats with mutual communication in a healthy baby, a baby who is head, baby who has a healthy, loving, caring mother.


But let's take another infant. He has a mother who is depressed. She spends a lot of time in a self-absorbed state. Her mood is low. Let's even say that she's a bit narcissistic.

This kind of infant spends a long time alone or with a emotionally unavailable mother.

His distress goes unacknowledged. He is never comforted.

In extreme cases, he has to come up with an imaginary friend to fulfill the functions of the mother. And in super extreme cases, this imaginary friend becomes the false self.

Okay, Shoshanim. So this kind of baby will develop a poor self-image. Self-image is a bad object, an object not worthy of the mother's attention, affection, caring, holding, containing, an object that is flawed. He cannot accuse, he cannot blame the mother for her behavior, he usually blames himself. I'm a bad boy or bad girl. That's why I'm not getting the attention that I need and crave because I'm afraid or I'm anxious or I feel threatened, I'm scared. Mummy is not coming because I don't deserve Mummy.

So from that moment, the internal working model is skewed. It is skewed because the infant doesn't feel that he has the right to demand anything from anyone and fully expects other people to frustrate him, to aggress against him, to not care for him, to not be concerned with him, to not help him. This calls for a crime. This is really bad. I'm always crying. You don't want to see me crying. You do not want to see me cry. I mean, you think you have had trauma in your life. Trust me, you haven't until you've seen me cry.

Okay. The infant in the second example feels that his distress is imposing on the mother, is invasive. And if the mother abuses this child because of his demands, the situation is even much worse.

Sometimes such a baby becomes his mother's mother. He is parentified and so on and so forth.

So in all these situations, the internal working model will be affected.

The view of the self will be at best ambivalent, usually bad, like a bad object. I'm sometimes worthy of attention, but usually I'm not worthy of attention at all. Sometimes I should receive comfort usually, or mostly I shouldn't, etc. I should actually give comfort when I'm distressed in order not to distress others with my distress.

The whole thing is f/f/up.

So the model of the other in this kind of internal working model will be confused. The other will be sometimes perceived as available, accessible, and at other times as ignoring and rejecting and frustrating.

The relationship model will have multiple expectations, all of them mutually exclusive.

The infant of the second type, the infant who has had a bad mother or not good enough mother, will have an internal working model that is less able to generate accurate predictions of what will happen, especially in the case of distress and crisis.

In short, when parenting is bad, withholding, frustrating, rejecting, there's a bad object generated, the ability to read minds is critically impaired and it is impaired, it is damaged because the internal working model is damaged.

And we use the internal working model to build expectations and predictions regarding behaviors of others.

The second central premise of attachment theory is that internal working models arise out of the repeated experiences of a specific nature in the early relationship.

And when these experiences are repeated time and again, the internal working model survives into childhood and then adulthood.

The expectations about self, about others, and about relationships, they are carried into subsequent interactions with other people. They provide a template to make an initial sense of new encounters.

I read to you something that Bowerby wrote in 1973. "No variables," said Bowerby, "have more far-reaching effects on personality development than have a child's experiences within his own family.

For starting during his first months in his relations with both parents, the child builds up working models of how attachment figures are likely to behave towards him in any of a variety of situations.

And on those models are based on his expectations and therefore on his plans for the rest of his life.

So Bowerby created this central tenet of attachment theory.

And today we believe that internal working models allow us to leverage mentalization in order to create theories of mind which would yield predictions regarding the behaviors of other people and speculations regarding their states of mind.

If the internal working model is negativistic, damaged, dysfunctional, so will the process of mentalization and the theory of mind and everything downstream.

On the other hand, you were raised in a healthy way by loving parents. You are likely to develop a stable, helpful internal working model and be able to interact with people on fairly safe grounds.

The problem starts when healthy people interact with mentally ill people.

They make the wrong assumptions. They don't read the minds of the mentally ill very well.


Here we come to a concept which is pretty old in psychology and it's known as introjection.

I mention it a lot in my work. Introjection is a process where the individual unconsciously incorporates aspects of external reality into the self, particularly but not limited to the attitudes, values and qualities of another person or some part of another person's personality.

Introjection occurs whenever we come across someone else and whenever there is a risk or potential for loss. Then to avoid this loss, we internalize the person.

We create an internal object which corresponds to the external object.

Masses discard the external object and continue to interact with the internal object.

Healthy people maintain both and modify the introject, modify the internal object as there are changes to the external object.

It's a very healthy process.

Now, internalizing the personality of another person, internalizing the qualities, the speech acts, the signals, the messages, the values, the beliefs of another person. That's a very powerful tool. It allows you to continue to interact with that person offline so to speak, even when he's not there.

In short, introjection is at the basis and foundation of object constancy and it yields what I call introject constancy.

The constancy in our lives, the feeling of a secure base crucially rely on the ability to interject properly and validly.

Psychoanalytic theory, interjection is the process of absorbing the qualities of an external object into the psyche in the form of an internal object or a mental representation known as an interject. Then the interject is an influence on behavior.

Now, this process, whether psychoanalytic or not, doesn't matter. This process is a normal part of development.

We interject parental values and parental personalities and attitudes. And these interjected parts, they become what is known in Freud's model as superego.

But interjection can be also used as a defense mechanism in a situation where there is anxiety and this has to do with other processes known as identification and incorporation.


So let's move on to other processes that are somehow tangential or somehow connected to interjection.

First one is incorporation. Incorporation is a fantasy defense. It's a fantasy that one has ingested an external object which is felt to be physically present inside the body.

According to this theory, it occurs very, very early in life, what used to be called the oral stage, when the child fantasizes that he or she has ingested the mother's breast.

Incorporation is thought to be an early form of identification and interjection is often confused with them. But it gives way to much more sophisticated methods of absorbing other people.

Absorbing other people physically is very primitive. And when the child passes the age of six months or up to 18 months, the child usually begins to develop abstract thinking, very sophisticated cognitions and so on.

So incorporation stops.

And we move on to interjection that I mentioned.

Interjection is connected to a larger process known as identification. It's a process of associating the self closely with other individuals, their characteristics and their views.

Now the process of identification has many forms.

For example, the infant initially feels that he is part, a part of his mother. The child gradually adopts the attitudes and the standards and the personality traits of both parents.

The adolescent takes on the characteristics of the peer group. The adult identifies with a particular profession, a political party, a nation state, a football club.

Identification operates largely on the non-conscious or subconscious or preconscious levels.

In psychoanalytic theory, identification is a defense mechanism where the individual incorporates aspects of his or her objects inside the ego to alleviate anxiety associated with object loss, to reduce hostility between himself or herself and the object about to be lost.

This is a very crucial point. Everyone accuses me of being a throwback to 100 years ago. That's not true. If you look at my videos, I bring you the cutting edge, the bleeding edge in psychological research.

However, I'm against scientism in psychology. I don't think statistics and, I don't know, laboratories are crucial to psychology. Not at all. I think they should be tangent. And I do think there's a lot to learn from the first 100 years of psychology which have been discarded and trashed as if they were nothing.

It's very grandiose of psychologists today to say that Freud knew nothing. That his work is nonsensical. It's not only grandiose. It's also supremely stupid.

So, yes, I'm going to discuss some things using psychoanalytic parlance.

But notice one very important aspect of all psychoanalytic theories or psychoanalytic psychologies. Loss. It seems that internalization, interjection, identification, they're all defenses intended to prevent permanent loss.

Now, how does this tie into mentalization in cognitive science, mentalization, I'm sorry, theory of mind in cognitive sciences? How does it tie into intersubjectivity? How does it tie with all the previous things that I mentioned?

Very simple, actually. We are not sure that other people exist. And when we do convince ourselves that they do exist, we never know when we might lose them.

There's only one certainty in life. We are about to lose everyone we know.

Divorces, breakups, no death, one way or another, we're going to lose people. All of them, without a single exception.

So we need to keep them with us. We need to somehow preserve them in our minds. They are dear to us. They're significant others. They're meaningful. They make sense of the world by their very own existence. We need them to continue to exist. They cannot exist in our lives physically. Let them exist in our lives mentally, which is where mentalization comes in.

Mentalization and theory of mind, they make us feel safe.

And this is where intersubjectivity comes in. Having eliminated the loss by internalizing the external object, having eliminated the potential loss, like internalizing the external object, we then need to interact with the internal object.

This internal object represents an external object, but we need to interact with them.

How to do this?

Intersubjectivity kicks in.

That's how we tie everything.

It starts with the fear of loss, then introjection, internalization, identification, then mentalization, then theory of mind, and then intersubjectivity.

In confirmatory factor analysis and structural equation modeling, there is the same concept of identification. It's when the model contains a sufficient number of fixed and free parameters which result in unique estimates from the observed data. And a model is identified or identifiable if a unique set of parameters of the model, of the values of parameters of the model, can be determined from observations.

So over-identification occurs when there are more known than free parameters. And under-identification occurs when it is not possible to estimate all of the model's parameters.

And this is a great way to look at the process of mentalization and the intersubjective agreement.

A model with fixed and free parameters which results in unique estimates for every other person observed. And the values are determined from observations.

And when most of the parameters are fixed and known and immutable and unchangeable, you are screwed because you over-identify, you're rigid.

This happens in personality disorders. Healthy people have a lot of free, many free parameters. There are many degrees of freedom in the model with healthy people. These free parameters allow for flexibility, adaptability, and the absorption and incorporation of new countervailing, even countervailing data.

Finally, this leads to internalization. It's the unconscious mental process by which the characteristics, beliefs, feelings, attitudes of other individuals or even groups are assimilated into the self, adopted as one's own, and then there is no way of telling that they are not.

So at some point the individual deceives himself into believing that these ideas, thoughts, beliefs, feelings, values, attitudes are his. They are not imported from the outside. They were never imported from the outside. They were always his.

It's a very useful self-deception because it keeps society alive and functioning.

When we convince ourselves that our norms and values are self-generated, it's easier for us to uphold them. When we realize that they've been imposed on us or that we have adopted them because we had no choice or because we had adopted them because of expediency, we don't get affected. We don't get emotionally attached in these values, beliefs, and thoughts.

So they are easy to break and breach and violate and infringe.

In psychoanalytic theory, internalization is the process of incorporating an object relationship inside the psyche, and this reproduces the external relationship as an intra-psychic phenomenon.

Internalization, therefore, is a crucial, very important pathway in the development of narcissism, healthy narcissism, including in Jung's work where he connected narcissism with introversion and also pathological narcissism.

So through internalization, the relationship between mother and child is reproduced in the relationship between superego and ego, or in this case, father and child, actually.

Superego and ego is father and child.

In relational theory, internalization of relationship between child and parent is reproduced in relationship between self and others.

Internalization is not introjection. It's much broader. It's about others and relationships with others rather than an internal reality.

This was a broad overview of all the mechanisms and dynamics and processes that we use to rate the mind of others and then having read the mind of others, make these minds our own.

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