One day last spring, James Wade sat cross-legged on the carpet and called his kindergarten class to order. Lanky and soft-spoken, Wade has a gentle charisma well suited to his role as a teacher of small children: steady, rather than exuberant. When a child performs a requested task, like closing the door after recess, he will often acknowledge the moment by murmuring, “Thank you, sweet pea,” in a mild Texas drawl.
Last month I received a query from a distinguished professor of neuroscience asking whether there is any literature linking mentalization to self-control. This was a reminder of how segregated different fields of psychology sometimes are; theories and concepts fundamental to one research area may be invisible to those working in other areas. For this reason, I thought it worthwhile addressing this question for the broad readership of Psychology Today, accepting that the concepts will be familiar to many readers already.