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Numero  27, anno XIV, dicembre 2016 - gennaio 2017 "Psicoanalisi ed Infant Research"

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       LA DIADE GENITORE-BAMBINO E LA COSTRUZIONE DEL SE' SOGGETTIVO

 

 

 

 di Peter Fonagy 1, George Gergely 2, Mary Target 3

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1 Freud Memorial Professor of Psychoanalysis, University College London, Chief Executive, The Anna Freud Centre, London 2 Institute for Psychological Research, Budapest, Hungarian Academy of Sciences & The Anna Freud Centre, London  3  Reader in Psychoanalysis, University College London Professional Director, The Anna Freud Centre, London



Questo articolo verrà pubblicato nella sua interezza all'interno di un libro di prossima pubblicazione delle Edizioni Frenis Zero. La traduzione in italiano è di Giuseppe Leo.

 

Abstract in English:

 

Developmental psychology and psychopathology has in the past been more concerned with the quality of self-representation than with the development of the subjective agency which underpins our experience of feeling, thought and action, a key function of mentalization. This review begins by contrasting a Cartesian view of pre-wired introspective subjectivity with a constructionist model based on the assumption of an innate contingency detector which orients the infant towards aspects of the social world that react congruently and in a specifically cued informative manner that expresses and facilitates the assimilation of cultural knowledge. Research on the neural mechanisms associated with mentalization and social influences on its development are reviewed. It is suggested that the infant focuses on the attachment figure as a source of reliable information about the world. The construction of the sense of a subjective self is then an aspect of acquiring knowledge about the world through the caregiver’s pedagogical communicative displays which in this context focuses on the child’s thoughts and feelings. We argue that a number of possible mechanisms, including complementary activation of attachment and mentalization, the disruptive effect of maltreatment on parent-child communication, the biobehavioural overlap of cues for learning and cues for attachment, may have a role in ensuring that the quality of relationship with the caregiver influences the development of the child’s experience of thoughts and feelings.

            

 

 

  

   

 

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INTRODUZIONE

 

La capacità di dare un significato soggettivo alle esperienze psicologiche diventa possibile come conseguenza della nostra capacità in evoluzione di comprensione esplicita e riflessiva che le azioni degli altri (così come le nostre) sono guidate da sottostanti stati mentali e dello stabilirsi di strategie adattative di mentalizzazione per riflettere sulle esperienze interattive in termini di tali stati mentali. La rassegna contenuta nel presente articolo intende esaminare le prove e la teoria che riguardano l'importanza della relazione genitore-bambino per l'emergenza della mentalizzazione. Esploreremo se lo stabilirsi delle precondizioni rappresentazionali ed attentive per una tale capacità di mentalizzazione riflessiva si sviluppi in modo ottimale in un contesto sociale relativamente sicuro e se questo avviene, in che modo potremmo comprendere questo. Cominceremo la nostra rassegna considerando i modelli che potenzialmente implicano una visione cartesiana della natura della soggettività e enunceremo le prove che riguardano le strutture cerebrali note per venire ad essere reclutate dalla mentalizzazione. Considereremo, sulla base della speculazione evoluzionistica e dei dati recenti di 'neuroimaging' la ragione per cui potremmo considerare legati tra di loro la mentalizzazione ed il contesto sociale dato dalle relazioni genitore-bambino. Considereremo anche, in modo alquanto dettagliato, se la letteratura sulle influenze sociali sulla mentalizzazione possa fornirci una base per ipotizzare che la relazione genitore-bambino contribuisca alla "costruzione" del sé psicologico. Infine, considereremo le implicazioni di un modello proposto di recente per il trasferimento intergenerazionale della conoscenza culturale, le teoria pedagogica, per lo sviluppo delle competenze cognitive sociali.

   Negli anni '80 la psicologia dello sviluppo cominciò ad indagare quando diventiamo capaci di capire che le persone possono avere false credenze sul mondo (Perner & Lang, 2000; Wellman, 1990; Wellman & Liu, 2004). Svariati ricercatori considerano che il conseguente costrutto della teoria della mente ed il paradigma della falsa credenza siano troppo ristretti (Carpendale & Lewis, 2006) in quanto esso non riesce a racchiudere  gli aspetti relazionali e di regolazione degli affetti nell'interpretare il comportamento in termini di stati mentali. Gli psicologi dello sviluppo fanno anche iniziato ad usare il termine "mentalizzare" in modo alternativo, poichè esso non è limitato né agli specifici compiti né a particolari gruppi di età (Morton & Frith, 1995; O'Connor & Hirsch, 1999).

   Definiamo la mentalizzazione seguendo una tradizione nella filosofia della mente stabilita da Brentano (1973/1874), Dennett (1978) ed altri come una forma di attività mentale perlopiù immaginativa e preconscia, specificatamente tesa a percepire e ad interpretare il comportamento umano in termini di stati mentali intenzionali (ossia, bisogni, desideri, sentimenti, credenze, obiettivi e motivazioni). E' immaginativa in quanto dobbiamo immaginare ciò che gli altri potrebbero star pensando o sentendo - un importante indicatore dell'alta qualità della mentalizzazione nella consapevolezza che non possiamo conoscere cosa ci sia nella mente di qualcun altro (per una discussione della definizione di questo concetto si veda Allen, 2006). Vorremmo persino suggerire che un simile genere di balzo immaginativo è richiesto per comprendere la propria esperienza mentale, in particolare in relazione ad elementi carichi emotivamente e senza dubbio alcune reti neurali che supportano i giudizi di intenzionalità rispetto al sé ed agli altri appaiono sovrapporsi (den Ouden, Frith, Frith, & Blakemore, 2005; Frith & Frith, 2003). Per poter adottare tale atteggiamento (consciamente o inconsciamente), per avere e concepire gli altri come esseri che hanno una "mente", l'individuo ha bisogno di un sistema di rappresentazione simbolica per gli stati mentali, come anche di attivare selettivamente stati della mente in linea con particolari intenzioni (controllo attentivo, Leslie, 2000).

    Quindi la mentalizzazione implica almeno tre funzioni chiave che si sovrappongono tra di loro: (1) una "teoria" intuitiva dell'azione che potremmo definire "mentalismo" che ci spinge a interpretare le azioni (umane) come causate da stati mentali intenzionali (credenze, desideri); (2) una rappresentazione delle menti degli altri che renda gli esseri umani capaci di inferire, attribuire e rappresentare gli stati mentali intenzionali degli altri - una capacità che si può chiaramente estendere generando rappresentazioni della proopria mente; (3) una capacità di predire, spiegare e giustificare le azioni degli altri inferendo gli stati mentali intenzionali che li causano. Se dobbiamo predire e giustificare ogni azione degli altri, dobbiamo capire che abbiamo menti separate che (spesso) contengono differenti modelli mentali della realtà, ma che è questa realtà interna piuttosto che quella esterna che causa le nostre azioni. Per far ciò dobbiamo essere in grado di inferire e rappresentare sia i modelli mentali della mente dell'altro che quelli della propria mente.

   Se devono conseguire tutto questo, i bambini hanno bisogno di acquisire un insieme complesso di capacità cognitive: (1) rappresentare stati mentali causali degli altri con contenuti controfattuali (false credenze), (2) rappresentare stati mentali causali degli altri con contenuti immaginari (finzione, immaginazione, fantasia), (3) rappresentare simultaneamente e differenziare i modelli mentali del sé e quelli dell'altro riguardanti la realtà, (4) inferire ed attribuire gli stati mentali degli altri a partire da segnali comportamentali visibili dato che gli stati mentali sono invisibili, e dobbiamo fare affidamento su segnali come la direzione dello sguardo, l'espressione delle emozioni, i gesti, i segnali comunicativi verbali e non verbali, i loro correlati ed i segnali non comunicativi comportamentali, (5) rilevare i propri segnali percepibili (comportamentali, fisiologici, emotivi, di attivazione-arousal, ecc.) allo scopo di inferire, interpretare ed attribuire stati mentali al nostro sé. Dal nostro punto di vista questa è una questione sostanziale dato che cercheremo di dimostrare che gli stati mentali causali del Sé - contrariamente alla dottrina cartesiana - sono anche invisibili all'introspezione. Per dirla in breve: la mente del sé non è trasparente a se stessa.

 

LA VISIONE CARTESIANA DELLA NATURA DEL SENSO SOGGETTIVO DI SE'

E' una critica comunemente espressa (ad es. da Dennett, 1991) che alla questione delle origini evolutive e socio-ambientali del nostro senso soggettivo degli stati affettivi si sia troppo spesso risposto usando l'assunto cartesiano di una soggettività universale e condivisa tra gli individui e lungo le linee di sviluppo. Questa visione cartesiana ipotizza una organizzazione innata e precostituita della nostra mente che assicuri l'"accesso introspettivo primario" ai nostri stati mentali interni permettendoci un'"autorità in prima persona" sui contenuti della nostra vita mentale privata soggettiva (per una discussione clinica di questa visione generale, Carpendale & Lewis, 2006; Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, & Target, 2002; Gergely, 2002; Gopnik, 1993; Wegner & Wheatley, 1999). 

 

SIMULAZIONE E SISTEMA DEI NEURONI SPECCHIO

L'approccio cartesiano è spesso abbinato (nei cosiddetti modelli "simulazionisti" della lettura della mente, si veda Gallese & Goldman, 1998; 2004; Goldman, 1993; Goldman & Sripada, 2005; Gordon, 1995; Harris, 1991; 1992) con l'idea che il modo in cui veniamo a comprendere (o, in un certo senso, a "percepire" internamente in modo diretto) gli stati mentali degli altri consiste nel "mettere (automaticamente) noi stessi nei loro panni" usando (nella nostra immaginazione) il nostro sé come modello mentale dell'altro (per un'esposizione più completa si veda Saxe, Carey, & Kanwisher, 2004). Attraverso questo processo di "simulazione" interna degli obiettivi e della particolare situazione dell'altra persona si viene ad inferire ed a rappresentare gli stati mentali dell'altro come anche ad anticipare le azioni che questi stati intenzionali della mente è probabile che causino. Questo implica che gli stati interni soggettivi dell'altro vengono indotti mentalmente in noi stessi grazie all'imitazione, all'immaginazione, all'identificazione o, più tardivamente, attraverso la "risonanza neuronale" suscitata dall'attivazione automatica del "sistema dei neuroni specchio" del nostro cervello durante l'osservazione del comportamento dell'altra persona (Gallese et al., 2004). Lavori recenti sul sistema dei neuroni specchio (Gallese et al., 2004; Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004) suggeriscono che il meccanismo fondamentale che ci permette di comprendere le azioni e le emozioni degli altri coinvolge l'attivazione del sistema dei neuroni specchio per le azioni e l'attivazione dei centri viscero-motori per la comprensione degli affetti. Tale affermazione viene fatta sulla base dell'osservazione che i neuroni motori,  che inizialmente si è trovato che nella corteccia premotoria ventrale del macaco rispondevano sia quando la scimmia effettua un'azione diretta ad uno scopo particolare sia quando osserva un altro individuo effettuare un'azione simile (Gallese, Fadiga, Fogassi, & Rizzolatti, 1996). L'osservazione dell'azione causa l'attivazione automatica dello stesso meccanismo neuronale scatenato dall'esecuzione dell'azione o addirittura dal suono prodotto dalla stessa azione (Kohler et al., 2002). Ci sono prove che il sistema dei neuroni specchio, sia nelle scimmie (Ferrari, Gallese, Rizzolatti, & Fogassi, 2003) che negli esseri umani (Rizzolatti & Craighero, 2004) abbraccia anche le azioni comunicative. In uno studio di risonanza magnetica funzionale, i partecipanti osservavano le azioni comunicative fatte con la bocca da esseri umani, scimmie e cani che portavano all'attivazione di differenti aree corticali a seguito di azioni appartenenti al repertorio motorio della specie dell'osservatore (ad es., mordere e leggere nella mente), che veniva mappata  nel sistema motorio dell'osservatore (Buccino et al., 2004). Sin dalla scoperta dei neuroni specchio, una varietà di analoghi esperimenti (Calmels et al., 2006; Gazzola, Aziz-Zadeh, & Keysers, 2006; Lotze et al., 2006; Molnar-Szakacs, Kaplan, Greenfield, & Iacoboni, 2006) come anche di studi indirettamente correlati ad esempio alla mimica facciale (Sato & Yoshikawa, 2006), alle differenze di genere (Cheng, Tzeng, Decety, Imada, & Hsieh, 2006) e all'autismo (Dapretto et al., 2006; Williams, Waiter et al., 2006) sono stati interpretati come implicanti il fatto che noi comprendiamo le azioni, le emozioni e le sensazioni degli altri dalla prospettiva della condivisione delle loro azioni (Keysers & Gazzola, 2006; Rizzolatti, Ferrari, Rozzi, & Fogassi, 2006). Viene suggerito che un singolo meccanismo (circuiti condivisi) si applica quando siamo testimoni di azioni, sensazioni ed emozioni di altri individui e quando siamo noi ad effettuare le stesse azioni. Analogamente, sentire le stesse sensazioni ed emozioni e tradurre la visione ed il suono di ciò che gli altri fanno e sentono nel linguaggio delle azioni e dei sentimenti propri dell'osservatore fornisce intuizioni sulla loro vita interiore. La tesi della semantica incarnata afferma che le rappresentazioni concettuali che hanno avuto accesso durante l'elaborazione linguistica sono, in parte, equivalenti alle rappresentazioni senso-motorie richieste dalla messa in azione dei concetti descritti (Aziz-Zadeh, Wilson, Rizzolatti, & Iacoboni, 2006).

    Ciò suggerisce una dicotomia tra un tipo immeditato e diretto, mediato dalla componente motoria, di comprensione dell'azione, ed un tipo più cognitivo basato sull'interpretazione delle rappresentazioni visive. Si pensa che ciò sia vero anche per la comprensione delle emozioni e potremmo concepire un sistema a due livelli che sottenda la mentalizzazione con un sistema corticale (frontale) che evoca le rappresentazioni dichiarative ed un sistema dei neuroni specchio che fa da supporto ad una comprensione più immediata dell'altro. Nell'insula anteriore l'informazione visiva concernente le emozioni degli altri è direttamente mappata sulle stesse strutture viscero-motorie che determinano l'esperienza di quell'emozione nell'osservatore (Wicker et al., 2003). Questa mappatura diretta può verificarsi persino quando l'emozione degli altri può solo essere immaginata (Singer et al., 2004) o inferita dagli stimoli visivi (Jackson, Meltzoff, & Decety, 2005). Gallese, Goldman ed altri ipotizzano una mappatura neuronale condivisa a livello sub-personale tra ciò che viene messo in atto e ciò che viene percepito e che può essere utilizzata per prevedere le azioni degli altri (Gallese, 2003, 2006; Goldman & Sripada, 2005; Saarela et al., 2006). Questo legame che si stabilisce automaticamente tra agente ed osservatore può non essere l'unico modo per capire le emozioni degli altri, ma la simulazione delle azioni per mezzo dell'attivazione delle reti corticali parietale e premotoria può costituire un livello basilare di comprensione esperenziale che non implica l'uso esplicito di alcuna teoria o rappresentazione dichiarativa.

   Una volta che un tale modello mentale è stato messo a punto, tutto ciò che c'è da fare è di entrare in modo introspettivo nei suoi contenuti e di "leggere" a partire da questa "auto-simulazione off-line dell'altro" ciò che l'altro deve sentire, intendere o credere  in questo momento in una data situazione. In altre parole, accedendo ai pensieri ed ai sentimenti che una persona avrebbe della situazione di un'altra persona - rappresentata internamente-, quella persona può attribuire (per analogia) questi stati soggettivi simulati alla mente dell'altra persona. L'assunto centrale di tale visione simulazionista della comprensione delle menti altrui consiste nell'ipotizzare che la dotazione basilare di stati mentali soggettivi dei differenti individui è identica ed "intercambiabile" e che situazioni simili generano gli stessi stati mentali causali e conseguenti tendenze all'azione in tutti noi. Comunque, è stato notato che i modelli non tengono appieno in conto del carico computazionale sul sistema che chiaramente essi implicano (Oztop, Kawato, & Arbib, 2006).

   La visione che confronta direttamente la comprensione delle azioni degli altri in termini di scopi ed intenzioni mappandoli direttamente sulle sue corrispondenti azioni motorie attraverso il sistema dei neuroni specchio è stata criticata in una serie di altri lavori. Csibra (in fase di pubblicazione) ha passato in rassegna le prove che dimostrano che le aree cerebrali che non fanno parte del sistema dei neuroni specchio (e che non hanno alcuna proprietà motoria, come il solco temporale superiore - STS) sono normalmente attivate durante l'osservazione dell'azione e sembrano giocare un ruolo cruciale nnell'attribuire scopi alle azioni. In tale prospettiva, le rappresentazioni premotorie dell'azione del sistema dei neuroni specchio sono attivate in una modalità dall'altro in basso dalle rappresentazioni precedentemente attribuite agli scopi (piuttosto che attraverso un "confronto diretto") e giocano un ruolo di previsione (piuttosto che di riconoscimento) anticipando (e monitorando) l'azione dell'altro in modo da raggiungere lo scopo attraverso la simulazione. Ci sono prove legate alla psicologia dello sviluppo riferite ai bambini che dimostrano che quelli che hanno sei mesi di età possono capire ed anticipare azioni altrui dirette ad uno scopo anche quando sono svolte da agenti non familiari, inanimati o astratti (Csibra, Gergely, Bíró, Koós, & Brockbank, 1999; Kamerawi, Kato, Kanda, Ishiguro, & Hiraki, 2005; Luo & Baillargeon, 2005; Wagner & Carey, 2005) o da simulazioni generate al computer di mani umane che svolgono azioni impossibili dal punto di vista biomeccanico (che, tuttavia, implicano un efficiente approccio verso lo scopo, si veda Gergely & Csibra, 2003).

   Queste scoperte non possono facilmente essere adattate al modello dei neuroni specchio in quanto tali azioni osservate non possono essere direttamente mappate su rappresentazioni di azioni motorie esistenti del sé (in quanto non ci sono schemi di azione corrispondenti nel repertorio motorio dell'osservatore bambino). In uno studio recente basato sulla risonanza magnetica funzionale in cui degli adulti vedevano una persona che svolgeva (confrontando un modo non razionale con un altro razionale) azioni dirette verso uno scopo (come ad es., qualcuno che premeva il bottone dell'ascensore col ginocchio mentre le mani erano o libere oppure occupate, Brass et al., 2007) ha riportato uno specifico incremento nel caso dell'approccio non razionale allo scopo (la condizione a mani libere) nell'attivazione di aree cerebrali (come ad es., il solco temporale superiore STS, la giunzione temporo-parietale TPJ e la corteccia anteriore fronto-mediale) che non hanno nessuna proprietà ascrivibile al sistema "mirror" e che sono tipicamente coinvolti nella mentalizzazione e nei compiti di attribuzione di credenze (Ferstl & von Cramon, 2002; Fletcher et al., 1995; Gallagher et al., 2000; Goel, Grafman, Sadato, & Hallett, 1995; Grezes, Frith, & Passingham, 2004; Saxe & Kanwisher, 2003; Saxe & Wexler, 2005; Vogeley et al., 2001). Tali scoperte supportano la visione secondo cui la comprensione delle azioni in termini di motivazioni è in primo luogo mediata da meccanismi cerebrali funzionali diversi da quelli coinvolti nella simulazione motoria attraverso la "risonanza" diretta neuronale. In breve, secondo tali critiche, mentre il sistema dei neuroni specchio può fornire un importante meccanismo di predizione basato sulla simulazione per l'anticipazione ed il monitoraggio delle azioni osservate negli altri, l'affermazione più radicale dei modelli basati sul sistema dei neuroni specchio, secondo cui la comprensione delle intenzioni o degli obiettivi delle azioni altrui è garantita unicamente dal confronto diretto delle azioni osservate con i propri schemi motori corrispondenti, non sembra più sostenibile.

   Il modello basato sui sistemi "mirror" ha anche forti implicazioni per la distinzione tra il sé e l'altro. Se la comprensione delle azioni e delle emozioni altrui è direttamente mediato dalle rappresentazioni condivise che sono ugualmente attivate dai comportamenti del sé o da quelli dell'altro, allora diventa difficile spiegare il motivo per cui non confondiamo gli altri con noi stessi ed in che modo gestiamo l'attribuzione delle azioni a noi stessi oppure agli altri. Recentemente, Schütz-Bosbach, Mancini, Aglioti e Haggard (Schutz-Bosbach, Mancini, Aglioti, & Haggard, 2006) hanno indagato il problema grazie ad un metodo ingegnoso - (la cosiddetta "illusione della mano che cancella") attraverso la manipolazione sperimentale  grazie all'esperienza indotta per contingenza - se il cervello attribuisca la stessa azione osservata al sé o ad un altro agente. Lo studio dimostra che mentre le stesse azioni attribuite ad un'altra persona avevano facilitato il sistema di azione dell'osservatore, quando sono attribuite al sé il sistema di azione dell'osservatore veniva soppresso anziché facilitato. Gli autori concludono che, contrariamente al modello radicale della "rappresentazione condivisa" della comprensione sé-altro, <<il sistema motorio ... comprende rappresentazioni degli altri agenti come qualitativamente differenti rispetto al sé>> (p.1834).

   

 

(fine della prima parte - il testo nella sua completezza verrà pubblicato in un prossimo libro delle Edizioni Frenis Zero)

    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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