Mentalization is the ability to surmise the mental states such as thoughts, wishes, intentions, needs and feelings behind one’s own and others’ behaviors. Mentalization has been an important concept in understanding personality development and psychopathology in recent years. However, the cultural factors that affect mentalization is an understudied area, which has also not been investigated in Turkey. In this review, the development of the concept of mentalization will be explored comparing individualistic and collectivistic cultures. The specific mentalization characteristics that may emerge in Turkey are discussed. With this aim, the concept of mentalization, its development and the kinds of mentalization impairments that emerge in psychopathology are discussed. Afterwards, the effects of culture on mentalization are discussed with reference to recent empirical literature. Specifically, the effects of cultural context on the development of theory mind, affective and cognitive mentalization, self and other-focused mentalization, explicit and implicit mentalization are explored. The reviewed studies suggest that in collectivistic cultures, individuals tend to others’ mental states and socially accepted objective norms more than their own internal states and refrain from strong emotions such as anger that may disrupt the social harmony. Moreover implicit mentalization is less affected by culture. Based on the reviewed studies, culturally sensitive suggestions are provided regarding how to conduct mentalization assessments and practices.
Mentalization, culture, individualism, collectivism, psychotherapy