• Compassion motivations: Distinguishing submissive compassion from genuine compassion and its association with shame, submissive behavior, depression, anxiety and stress

      Catarino, Francisca; Gilbert, Paul; McEwan, Kirsten; Baião, Rita; Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust; University of Coimbra; University of Derby; University of Cardiff (Guildford Press, 2014-05)
      Abstract Recent research has suggested that being compassionate and helpful to others is linked to well-being. However, people can pursue compassionate motives for different reasons, one of which may be to be liked or valued. Evolutionary theory suggests this form of helping may be related to submissive appeasing behavior and therefore could be negatively associated with well-being. To explore this possibility we developed a new scale called the submissive compassion scale and compared it to other established submissive and shame-based scales, along with measures of depression, anxiety and stress in a group of 192 students. As predicted, a submissive form of compassion (being caring in order to be liked) was associated with submissive behavior, shame-based caring, ego-goals and depression, anxiety, and stress. In contrast, compassionate goals and compassion for others were not. As research on compassion develops, new ways of understanding the complex and mixed motivations that can lie behind compassion are required. The desire to be helpful, kind, and compassionate, when it arises from fears of rejection and desires for acceptance, needs to be explored.
    • The development of compassionate engagement and action scales for self and others

      Gilbert, Paul; Catarino, Francisca; Duarte, Cristiana; Matos, Marcela; Kolts, Russell; Stubbs, James; Ceresatto, Laura; Duarte, Joana; Pinto-Gouveia, José; Basran, Jaskaran; et al. (Biomed Central, 2017-04-27)
      Background Studies of the value of compassion on physical and mental health and social relationships have proliferated in the last 25 years. Although, there are several conceptualisations and measures of compassion, this study develops three new measures of compassion competencies derived from an evolutionary, motivational approach. The scales assess 1. the compassion we experience for others, 2. the compassion we experience from others, and 3. self-compassion based on a standard definition of compassion as a ‘sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it’. We explored these in relationship to other compassion scales, self-criticism, depression, anxiety, stress and well-being. Methods Participants from three different countries (UK, Portugal and USA) completed a range of scales including compassion for others, self-compassion, self-criticism, shame, depression, anxiety and stress with the newly developed ‘The Compassionate Engagement and Actions’ scale. Results All three scales have good validity. Interestingly, we found that the three orientations of compassion are only moderately correlated to one another (r < .5). We also found that some elements of self-compassion (e.g., being sensitive to, and moved by one’s suffering) have a complex relationship with other attributes of compassion (e.g., empathy), and with depression, anxiety and stress. A path-analysis showed that self-compassion is a significant mediator of the association between self-reassurance and well-being, while self-criticism has a direct effect on depressive symptoms, not mediated by self-compassion. Discussion Compassion evolved from caring motivation and in humans is associated with a range of different socially intelligent competencies. Understanding how these competencies can be inhibited and facilitated is an important research endeavour. These new scales were designed to assess these competencies. Conclusions This is the first study to measure the three orientations of compassion derived from an evolutionary model of caring motivation with specified competencies. Our three new measures of compassion further indicate important complex relationships between different potentiation’s of compassion, well-being, and vulnerability to psychopathologies.
    • Fears of compassion in a depressed population: Implication for psychotherapy

      Gilbert, Paul; McEwan, Kirsten; Catarino, Francisca; Baião, Rita; University of Derby (OMICS International, 2014-05-13)
      Background: While psychological therapies for depression have advanced in the last 20 years, still many people respond only partially and remain vulnerable to relapse. Insight into the limitations of our psychological therapies might be obtained from recent research that has revealed, in nonclinical populations, that some people can be fearful of positive emotions especially affiliative and compassion-focused ones. Aims: This study explores the fears of compassion in a clinical population and their associations with selfcriticism, self-compassion and depression, anxiety and stress. Method: 53 depressed patients completed a series of self-report scales. Results: Fears of compassion, particularly for oneself and from others, were strongly linked to self-criticism, depression, anxiety and stress, and negatively associated with self-compassion and self-reassurance. Conclusions: Since compassion and the affiliative emotions associated with compassion play a fundamental role in emotion regulation, individuals who are blocked or fearful of accessing these emotions are likely to be struggle with emotional regulation and the psychotherapeutic process. Research on the fears of compassion and affiliative emotions suggests these are important therapeutic targets.
    • Fears of happiness and compassion in relationship with depression, alexithymia, and attachment security in a depressed sample.

      Gilbert, Paul; McEwan, Kirsten; Catarino, Francisca; Baião, Rita; Palmeira, Lara; University of Derby; University of Coimbra; Mental Health Research Unit; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Derby UK; Mental Health Research Unit; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Derby UK; Mental Health Research Unit; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; Derby UK; et al. (Wiley, 2013-11-27)
      Objectives In a non-clinical population, fears of compassion and fear of happiness have both been found to be highly correlated with alexithymia and depression. This study sought to explore these processes and their links with adult attachment and social safeness and pleasure in a depressed group. Method A total of 52 participants suffering from moderate to severe depression completed measures of fears of happiness, compassion from others and for self, in addition to measures of alexithymia, attachment, social safeness, and depression, anxiety, and stress. Results Fears of compassion and happiness were highly correlated with alexithymia, adult attachment, and depression, anxiety, and stress. Fear of happiness was found to be the best predictor of depression, anxiety, and stress, whereas fear of compassion from others was the best predictor of adult attachment. A path analysis showed that fears of positive emotion fully mediate the link between alexithymia and depression. This clinical sample had higher mean scores in fears of positive emotions, alexithymia, and depression, anxiety, and stress than a previously studied student sample. Conclusions This study adds to the evidence that fears of positive emotions are important features of mental health difficulties. Unaddressed, these fears can block positive emotions and may lead to emotional avoidance of positive affect thus contributing as blocks to successful therapy. Therapies for depression may therefore profitably assess and desensitize the fear of positive emotions. Practitioner points Many therapies focus on reducing negative affect and increasing positive affect. However, clinicians should be aware that positive emotions can be feared: in this clinical sample, depression is strongly associated with fear of happiness and fears of compassion. If clients fear happiness and compassion, they may resist or have difficulties in engaging in activities which evoke positive affect. If not addressed these fears may become blocks to therapy. Fears of different types of positive affect may require different interventions.
    • Fears of negative emotions in relation to fears of happiness, compassion, alexithymia and psychopathology in a depressed population: A preliminary study

      Gilbert, Paul; McEwan, Kirsten; Catarino, Francisca; Baião, Rita; University of Derby; University of Coimbra (OMICS International, 2014-05-13)
      Abstract Objectives: While fears of negative or aversive emotions are linked to experiential avoidance and psychopathology, recent studies have also focused on the relation between psychopathology and fear of positive emotions. This study explores 1. which negative emotions of anger, anxiety and sadness on most feared and avoided and 2. the links between fears and avoidance of negative emotions, with fears of positive and affiliative emotions, alexithymia, and self-reported depression anxiety and stress. Method: A new scale was developed to measure fears of three negative emotions anxiety anger and sadness. 52 participants suffering from moderate to severe depression completed this measure, along with fear of happiness, fears of compassion, alexithymia and psychopathology. Results: Interestingly fears of negative emotions were not correlated with each other; in other words one can be frightened of one negative emotion but not another. The correlation between the fear of an emotion and the avoidance of that emotion was different for the three negative emotions, with fear of anger being the most strongly linked to its avoidance. Fear of sadness was the only feared ‘negative’ emotion associated with depression. Fear of sadness and fear of anger, but not anxiety also linked to fears of positive emotions and alexithymia. Conclusions: Fears of (so called) negative emotions vary in terms of the degree to which people are fearful of them and avoid them. Importantly it was sadness, a neglected emotion in the studies of emotion avoidance, which accounted for the higher proportion of variance for depression and alexithymia.
    • Measuring competitive self-focus perspective taking, submissive compassion and compassion goals.

      Gilbert, Paul; Catarino, Francisca; Sousa, Joana; Ceresatto, Laura; Moore, Rosalind; Basran, Jaskaran; University of Derby; University of Sheffield; University of Coimbra (Biomed Central, 2017-05-25)
      Research in the last 20 years has provided good evidence that developing compassion-focused motives for self and others has a range of benefits. However, people can behave in prosocial ways for different reasons, not all of which are genuinely care focused. This paper reports research comparing submissive compassion (being helpful to be liked) to “genuine” compassion in relation to domains of empathy and perspective taking. We developed a new short (5 item) self-report scale (the competitive perspective taking scale) to explore how people might use perspective taking for self-focused reasons. We investigated its association with validated empathy and compassion measures.