Exploring the Relationship Between Self-Compassion and Compassion for Others:

The Role of Psychological Distress and Wellbeing

Authors: Javier García-Campayo, Alberto Barceló-Soler,  David Martínez-Rubio,  Jaime Navarrete, Adrián Pérez-Aranda, Albert Feliu-Soler, Juan V. Luciano, Ruth Baer, Willem Kuyken, and Jesus Montero-Marin

While empathy can be a precursor to compassion, compassion requires the additional step of being motivated to help. Compassion is an important human capacity to respond to suffering and has been demonstrated to be associated with decreased anxious and depressive symptomatology, improved coping with pain, and positive outcomes of quality of life and wellbeing*.

The authors of this scientific article addressed construct validity and explored the relationship between self-compassion and compassion for others.

Participants of this research (n=811) completed different validated Compassion Scales. Participants with good mental health showed higher associations between self-compassion and compassion for others than those with poorer mental health. Self-compassion and compassion for others appear to be dimensional constructs that can converge or diverge. When they converge, it is associated with better mental health.

New research confirming the intermediate association between self-compassion and compassion for others in the healthy population and the absence of relationships in specific subgroups suffering from psychopathology seems warranted. Future research should investigate whether the potential decoupling process between self-compassion and compassion for others in psychiatric patients can be reverted, if this is possible using different types of interventions (e.g., psychotherapies, and drugs), and the extent to which this could be a potential cause or an epiphenomenon of clinical improvements.

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