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Join the International Conference on: How Might We Build a Culture of Empathy and Compassion?

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Culture of Empathy Builder:  Paul Gilbert


The Differences, Similarities and Relationship
Between Empathy and Compassion

Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Director of the Mental Health Research Unit, Derbyshire Mental Health Trust. He has authored over 20 books, including, Depression: The Evolution of Powerlessness and The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life's Challenges. He has also written hundreds of articles and papers. He is President and Founder of the Compassionate Mind Foundation.

Paul is working on making compassion a primary personal and cultural value, while Edwin is working on making empathy a primary personal and cultural value. In this dialogue we
explore the differences, similarities and relationship between empathy and compassion.



Discussion Notes by Lidewij Niezink, Some key points they discussed (and I lashed on to... ;-)):

In order to generate interest, creating a social movement is a good idea.
Constant fortification of the threat system in our brains blocks people from caring about others.
Are we moving towards being more empathic as a society? Is the current tendency to polarise just a 'step back'?
Empathy has to be a core competence in order to see what our common interests are.
People want to belong, which is why a movement can be a good vehicle to dissipate more empathy and compassion in the world.
Empathy opens us up to obtain emotional wisdom.
Empathy needs to be mutual in order to bond, the practice of reflective listening makes us find common ground.
It would be good to build an empathic/compassionate habit outside of conflict. The suggestion of a weekly empathy circle within the family or in schools was made.
Mindfulness has captured attention of many people, however, it is not sufficient.
Empathy is a skill which can be used for good or bad. The motive behind it is the crucial determining factor.
Empathy is, according to Edwin, also a way of being, not just a skill.
Compassion motivation is at the core of the type of empathy these two men would like to see spread in the world.

And much, much more!



Paul Gilbert and Edwin Rutsch: How to Build a Culture of Empathy & Compassion

In this interview, Paul and Edwin have a wide ranging discussion about shame, depression, empathy and compassion, as well as, how to foster compassion in society.



Compassion Based Therapy - Interview


Paul Gilbert - Beginnings of Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)

  • Working with patients

  • try to generate kind voice in them

  • the inner voice - imagine a kind warm voice

    • lot of resistance,

    • a weakness, an indulgence, become tearful

  • Buddhism and compassion

  • Therapy and Buddhism - insights from both traditions

    • psychodrama

    • chair work

    • etc

    • imagery

  • Compassion-focused therapy (CFT)  emerged  out of this

    • focused on how to get affiliative feeling for the self

    • affiliative  'bring or come into close connection'

  • What does compassion and self-compassion mean?

    • Paul Gilbert

      • affiliative emotion - kindness, supportive,

      • got into attachment theory

      • mammalian caring behavior - mother caring for the child

      • calms and sooths the child and teacher emotional regulation

      • secure based for going out into the world

      • Want to activate that process in people with  (CFT)

      • the root is to feel "affiliative feeling"

    • Kristen Neff

      • what does it feel like when your heart is open

      • an excepting and an allowing, not shutting anything out of our experience

      • including pain

      • feel kind caring for self and others

      • sense of interdependence

      • an experience

    • Chris Germer

      • Suffering and wish to alienate it.

      • open heartedness in the presence of pain and suffering

      • a fundamental human resource

      • a capacity to be with pain and even transform it to something useful

      • we are hard wired for it.

      • it's a skill we can cultivate

      • how can we be with the difficulties of life without being crushed by it.

      • wrapping suffering in loving kindness

    • Paul

      • we know this and turn to others for support, understanding, a cuddle, heard, soothed

      • with self compassion - direct this toward self as well.

      • compassion is the basis of courage

  • 13:00 Phases of self-compassion

    • a new phase

    • refine our intention

    • care and comfort  

  • 15:00 Current work and future

    • Kristen Neff - did research - now teaching

    • Paul Gilbert

      • developing the compassionate self -

      • developing breathing exercises

      • imagery of what you want to become

      • how to facilitate compassion in different groups -

        •  psychosis, eating disorders

      • Cognitive behavioral therapy

      • form  "affiliative feeling"

      • shame - sense of loneliness

  • Compassion - some see it as syrupy sweet.

    • but a transformative process

Interview with Dr. Paul Gilbert



Paul Gilbert, OBE on Compassion Focused Therapy and Buddhism


Paul Gilbert, OBE on Compassion Focused Therapy and Buddhism from WhatMeditationReallyIs on Vimeo.