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Changing the meaning of shameful memories through compassionate meditation

Dennington, LB; (2012) Changing the meaning of shameful memories through compassionate meditation. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

THESIS VOLUME ONE - Literature review and empirical paper.pdf
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This thesis investigated the relationships between attachment styles, shame and compassion. Part 1 is a systematic literature review that sought to clarify which attachment styles were related to shame. The review suggested that fearful or preoccupied attachment styles were most closely related to shame. Both of these styles depend on negative working models of the self, so the review supported the conceptual model of shame as a model of oneself as inferior in relation to others. Part 2 describes an empirical study that investigated the effectiveness of a brief compassionate meditation for alleviating state shame. Fifty-seven students used a guided imagery-based meditation focussed on cultivating compassion to reconsider a shameful memory of their own choosing. Mixed quantitative and qualitative methods were used to examine their responses to doing so. The results showed that quantitative measures of shame and self-blame decreased reliably following the meditation, and were accompanied by shifts from negative to positive affect. Participants’ ability to problem-solve about the shaming event was enhanced by these changes. Participants’ ease of cultivating compassion was studied in relation to their memories of their parents as children and any current signs of depression. A qualitative analysis of participant feedback provided information on the qualities of helpful and unhelpful meditations. Recommendations are given for clinical practice and future research. Part 3 is a critical appraisal that gives reflections on the literature review and empirical paper, offering some guidance and recommendations to others considering similar projects. It discusses issues in study design and measurement, as well as the use of imagery or meditation as a therapeutic intervention.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Changing the meaning of shameful memories through compassionate meditation
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis in two volumes: volume 2 is restricted
Keywords: Compassion, Shame, Attachment, Attachment styles, Preoccupied, Fearful, Secure, Dismissing, Compassionate meditation, Meditation, Imagery, Imagery exercise, Mindfulness, Kindness, Empathy, Shameful memory, Depression, Affect
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
URI: http://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1364033
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