• Compassion, fears, blocks and resistances: An evolutionary investigation.

      Gilbert, Paul; Mascaro, Jennifer; University of Derby; Emory University (Oxford University Press, 2017-11-16)
    • 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.