Mentalization And Personality Organization In Heroin Addicted Patients: A Narrative Analysis

  • Nikola Atanassov New Bulgarian University
  • Svetoslav Savov New Bulgarian University


The relationship between the dimensions of personality organization and the quality of mentalization is an important object of study in contemporary psychodynamic theory and it also contributes to the understanding of heroin addiction with comorbid personality disorders. The current study aims to assess levels of personality organization and its main domains (Identity, Object relations, Defense Mechanisms) in patients with opiate addiction, as well as the quality of affect mentalization and possible connections between them. In order to do so we have adopted quantitative text-analysis method of affect mentalization to parts of а interview, trying to show that the language which participants use could be in itself a psychodiagnostic means. A group of 30 heroin addicted patients in a methadone treatment programme and a control group of 30 healthy participants were assessed with the Structured Interview of Personality Organization (STIPO), VEA (Verbal Elaboration of Affect Scale) and The Measure of Affect Contents (MAC). Results show significant differences between the two groups, concerning all dimensions of personality organization as well as some core areas of affect mentalization. The capacity for affect mentalization is significantly correlated to the level of personality organization. The results are discussed from the point of view of the adopted theoretical models and the implications for psychotherapeutic work in the bio-psycho-social model.

Author Biographies

Nikola Atanassov, New Bulgarian University

Nikola Atanassov, PhD, is an associate professor of Clinical Psychology, Department of Cognitive Science and Psychology, New Bulgarian University in Sofia, Bulgaria. He is training analyst of the Bulgarian Psychoanalytic Society - a study group of the International Psychoanalytic Association - and teaches psychoanalytic theory to students of clinical psychology. He regards psychoanalysis as one of the major research tools of psychology and is interested in the points of contact between metapsychology and general psychology. 

Svetoslav Savov, New Bulgarian University

Svetoslav Savov, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Cognitive Science and Psychology, New Bulgarian University. He is an associate member and candidate of the Bulgarian Psychoanalytic Society, currently in private practice with children, adolescents and adults. 


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How to Cite
Atanassov, N., & Savov, S. (1). Mentalization And Personality Organization In Heroin Addicted Patients: A Narrative Analysis. Language and Psychoanalysis, 5(1), 14-30.
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