Self-Compassion in Self-Harm

In this recent study by Professor Gilbert and others, the role of elevated feelings of anger and desires to escape (fight or flight), which are experienced as inhibited, blocked, and arrested in people who self-harm were explored.

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Dec 05, 2016
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https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27683562

Welcome to a new week everyone. Cold, isn't it?! We thought we would try to warm you up with some notions of self-compassion. Professor Paul Gilbert is a bit of a legend in this area being the father of Compassion-Focused therapy. Some of us saw him give a keynote talk at the recent Body Dysmorphic Disorder conference and thought he was rather fantasic.

According to Professor Gilbert's website, when people hear the word compassion, they tend to think of kindness. But scientific study has found the core of compassion to be courage. A standard definition of compassion is, "a sensitivity to suffering in self and others with a commitment to try to alleviate and prevent it." The courage to be compassionate lies in the willingness to see into the nature and causes of suffering - be that in ourselves, in others and the human condition. The challenge is to acquire the wisdom we need to address the causes of suffering in ourselves and others.

In this recent study by Professor Gilbert and others, the role of elevated feelings of anger and desires to escape (fight or flight), which are experienced as inhibited, blocked, and arrested in people who self-harm were explored. 58 people presenting to an emergency department following an act of self-harm were recruited to this study. Participants completed newly developed measures of arrested flight, arrested anger and anger with self in regard to self-harm, and suicide intent and depression.

Gilbert et al. found that arrested defenses of fight and flight, and self-criticism are common in those who have self-harmed and may continue after acts of self-harm. Many participants revealed that talking about their experiences of escape motivation and blocked anger was helpful to them. We have a feeling that yoga practice might have been helpful also for tipping them from sympathetic (fight or flight) to parasympathetic (rest and digest) dominance, for moving blocked anger and igniting a sense of greater self-compassion and calm.

Have a truly wonderful week everyone.

Go to the profile of Heather Mason

Heather Mason

Founder of the Minded Institute, The Minded Institute

Heather Mason is a leader in the field of mind-body therapy and the founder of Yoga Therapy for the Mind. She develops innovative methods for mental health treatment drawing on her robust educational background including an MA in Psychotherapy, an MA in Buddhist Studies, studies in Neuroscience and a current MSc in Medical Physiology.. She is also a 500 RYT, a yoga therapist and an MBCT facilitator. Heather offers various professional trainings for yoga teachers, healthcare professionals and therapists, lectures around the world, and delivers training to medical students. She also develops protocols for different client populations by translating cutting edge research from the psycho-biology and neuro-biology of stress into yoga practices, breathwork, mindfulness interventions and therapeutic holding. Further she is involved in research on the efficacy of these practices, holds the annual UK yoga therapy conference and is blazing the trail for the integration of yoga therapy into the NHS

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