• Effects of intranasal oxytocin on compassion focused imagery.

      Rockliff, Helen; Karl, Anke; McEwan, Kirsten; Gilbert, Jean; Matos, Marcela; Gilbert, Paul; University of Bristol; University of Exeter; University of Derby; University of Coimbra (American Psychological Association, 2011-06-27)
      This study explored the effects of oxytocin on Compassion Focused Imagery (CFI), that is, imagining another “mind” being deeply compassionate to oneself, and the interaction of these effects with self-criticism and feeling socially safe with others. Forty-four healthy participants (29 men and 15 women) completed self-report measures of self-criticism, attachment style, and social safeness before taking part in a double-blind randomized placebo controlled study. They attended two imagery sessions, receiving oxytocin in one and a placebo in the other. Positive affect was measured before and after each imagery session, and “imagery experience” was assessed after each session. Overall, oxytocin increased the ease of imagining compassionate qualities but there were important individual differences in how CFI was experienced. Participants higher in self-criticism, lower in self-reassurance, social safeness, and attachment security had less positive experiences of CFI under oxytocin than placebo, indicating that the effects of oxytocin on affiliation may depend on attachment and self-evaluative styles.
    • Interpersonal sensitivities: their link to mood, anger and gender.

      Gilbert, Paul; Irons, Christopher Paul; Olsen, K.; Gilbert, Jean; McEwan, Kirsten; Kingsway Hospital; University of Derby (British Psychological Society, 2006-03)
      This paper explores two interpersonal sensitivities (to rejection and to social putdown) in a group of 54 depressed men and 50 depressed women. Measures of anhedonia, anxiety, anger, social comparison, and submissive behaviour were also obtained. We found no differences in rejection sensitivity, anger, anhedonia, or anxiety between the sample of depressed men and women. Depressed women rated themselves as more submissive and more inferior than depressed men, and blamed themselves more for being criticized and put-down by other people. Principal components analysis (PCA) revealed three underlying factors: mood (including anxiety and depression), internalization (related to self-blame and feelings of low rank), and externalization (related to anger and blaming others for criticism). For both men and women internalization was significantly correlated with depression. However, externalization was negatively related to depression in women, but positively related to depression in men. Hence, the difference between the genders was on externalization but not internalization.
    • Practical compassions: repertoires of practice and compassion talk in acute mental healthcare

      Brown, Brian; Crawford, Paul; Gilbert, Paul; Gilbert, Jean; Gale, Corinne; DeMontfort University; Nottingham University; University of Derby; Faculty of Health and Life Sciences; De Montfort University; Leicester UK; Division of Nursing; Nottingham University; Nottingham UK; et al. (Wiley, 2013-10-11)
      This article reports an exploratory study of the concept of compassion in the work of 20 mental health practitioners in a UK Midlands facility. Using notions of practice derived from phenomenology and Bourdieusian sociology and notions of emotional labour we identify two contrasting interpretive repertoires in discussions of compassion. The first, the practical compassion repertoire, evokes the practical, physical and bodily aspects of compassion. It involves organising being with patients, playing games, anticipating disruption and taking them outside for cigarettes. Practitioners described being aware that these practical, bodily activities could lead to patients ‘opening up’, disclosing their interior concerns and enabling practical, compassionate mental health work to take place. In contrast, the second, organisational repertoire, concerns organisational constraints on compassionate practice. The shortage of staff, the record-keeping and internal processes of quality control were seen as time-greedy and apt to detract from contact with patients. The findings are discussed in relation to Bourdieu and Merleau-Ponty's phenomenological accounts of practice and habit and set in context in the growing interest in placing compassion centrally in healthcare. We also explore how the exercise of compassion in the way our participants describe it can afford the more effective exercise of medical power.
    • A qualitative study of the understanding and use of ‘compassion focused coping strategies’ in people who suffer from serious weight difficulties.

      Gilbert, Jean; Stubbs, James; Gale, Corinne; Gilbert, Paul; Dunk, Laura; Thomson, Louise; Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Trust; Slimming World; University of Derby; University of Nottingham (Biomed Central, 2014-11-11)
      Abstract Background The physical and psychological health problems associated with obesity are now well documented, as is the urgency for addressing them. In addition, associations between quality of life, depression, self-esteem, self-criticism, and obesity are now established indicating a need for a better understanding of the links between self-evaluation, affect-regulation and eating behaviours. Methods Compassion has now been identified as a major source of resilience, helpful self-relating and affect regulation. Thus this study used semi-structured interviews to explore the understanding and experiences of compassion in 2 overweight men and 10 women seeking help for weight problems. The interviews examined people's understandings of compassion, their recall of experiences of compassion in childhood, their current experiences of receiving compassion from others, being compassionate to others, being self-compassionate, and whether they would be compassionate or self-critical for relapses in overeating. Interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis (Qual Res Psychol, 3: 77-101, 2006). Results Participants saw compassion as related to ‘caring’ and being ‘listened to’. However, their recall of earlier experiences of compassion was of primarily practical help rather than emotional engagement. Typically their response to their own relapse and setbacks were self-criticism, self-disgust and even self-hatred rather than self-caring or understanding. Self-critical/hating responses tend to be associated with poor weight regulation. Conclusions When people with weight problems relapse, or struggle to control their eating, they can become quite self-critical, even self-hating, which may increase difficulties with emotionally coping and maintaining healthy lifestyles and eating habits. Although turning to others for support and compassion, and becoming self-compassionate are antidotes to self-criticism, and are associated with better coping and mental health, many participants did not utilise compassionate strategies – often the opposite. It is possible that interventions that include mindfulness and compassion training could be helpful for these difficulties.