Scared of compassion: Fear of compassion in anxiety, mood, and non-clinical groups
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Objectives. Fear of receiving compassion from others, expressing compassion to others, and being compassionate towards oneself have been identified as potentially important factors in the persistence of depression, stress disorders, and eating disorders. There is good reason to expect that these fears may play a role in anxiety and related difficulties, but there is little available information on the extent to which they are present and associated with symptom severity. Methods. This study compared the severity of the three fears of compassion (receiving, expressing to others, and showing to oneself) in those with a principal diagnosis of depression (n = 34), obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD; n = 27), social anxiety disorder (SAD; n = 91), generalized anxiety disorder (GAD, n = 43), and a control sample with no mental health difficulties (n = 212). Results. Those with depression, OCD, SAD, and GAD exhibited greater fear of receiving compassion and fear of self-compassion than controls, and the differences between anxious and control groups remained significant even when controlling for depressed mood. Whereas fears of compassion did not predict symptom severity over and above depressed mood in people with GAD, fear of receiving compassion uniquely predicted SAD symptom severity, and fear of expressing compassion for others uniquely predicted OCD symptom severity in those high on fear of self-compassion. Conclusions. Fear of compassion is higher in those with anxiety and related disorders than non-anxious controls. Although further research is needed, clinicians may benefit from assessing fear of compassion and addressing it in treatment.
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Olivia Merritt, Christine Purdon (2020). Scared of compassion: Fear of compassion in anxiety, mood, and non-clinical groups. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/17107
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