Mentalization of trauma in juvenile offenders
Trauma has been recognised as one of the most important risk factors for many different mental health problems, including, for example, depression, substance abuse and schizophrenia. The experience of being abused by a parent/caregiver is considered to be particularly hazardous and overwhelming. The collapse of mentalization might be better understood through analysis of deficits in some other developmental processes strongly connected to it, and found within the attachment relationship. A hypothesis about mentalization being the mediator between trauma experiences and aggressive behaviour was confirmed in a community sample of adolescents. The hypothesis that the capacity to mentalize trauma is more compromised in juvenile offenders than in their also traumatised non-delinquent peers has been confirmed in this study. A medium to large effect size supports the assumption of mentalization as a potential protective factor for violent behaviour.