Both mentalization and metacognition have played a role in interpersonal communication. Mentalization is defined as the process by which we make sense of others and ourselves, through our awareness of the mental states of others either physically or psychologically. Metacognition, also known as “thinking about thinking” or “knowing about knowing”, is our understanding or awareness of our own thought processes. Both terms play out into our daily lives as we interact with others and utilize our own thinking strategies to make decisions that affect both ourselves and others. Previous research has suggested that those with personality disorders struggle with both mentalization and metacognition.

Avoidant personality disorder (AvPD) is characterized by longstanding feelings of inadequacy and extreme sensitivity to what others may think. Low self-esteem as a part of the disorder may cause an individual to be socially inhibited; individuals with AvPD may be considered extremely shy and may overly fear of being criticized or embarrassed in front of others. In a 2016 study titled “Mindreading Dysfunction in Avoidant Personality Disorder Compared with Other Personality Disorders”, researchers from Italy assessed 287 adult clients seeking treatment in an outpatient treatment center, with 63 individuals diagnosed specifically with AvPD and the rest of the population sample being diagnosed with any personality disorder other an AvPD.

Participants completed a semi-structured interview that helped researchers assess the capacity of individuals to reflect on different mental states and their ability to identify patterns, conflicts, and underlying motivations behind someone’s behavior. The results of the study indicated that people with AvPD experience more difficulty than others with a personality disorder when it comes to identifying their own mental states (also known as monitoring) and correctly identifying the mental states of others (also known as decentration). Difficulty in these two areas may provide reasoning for why many people with AvPD feel inadequate or fear criticism – not being able to effectively read others and gain awareness of oneself can perpetuate anxiety and uncertainty.

If you have been diagnosed with AvPD and have been struggling to manage your symptoms, make the decision to seek treatment today. Recovery is possible and there are many tools and educational resources that can help you overcome your daily obstacles

Therapy is a primary component of treatment for rehabilitation from a substance use disorder and/or mental health disorder. Attending treatment with certified clinicians and counselors is critical for a full recovery. At one of New Vista Behavioral Health’s treatment providers, you are receiving exceptional care, held to a higher standard. Our programs result in better outcomes, ensuring a better recovery. For information call us today: 888-316-3665.



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