- Paperback: 544 pages
- Publisher: New Harbinger Publications; 1 edition (March 1, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1572248408
- ISBN-13: 978-1572248403
- Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #581,040 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Compassionate Mind: A New Approach to Life's Challenges 1st Edition
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From Publishers Weekly
British clinical psychologist Gilbert (Overcoming Depression) integrates neuropsychology, Buddhist practices, and Carl Jung's concept of archetypes to illuminate the human mind and its potential for meaningful connection through compassion. Eschewing the standard self-help focus on "learning to accept and love yourself," Gilbert explores the universal challenges stemming from conflict between the "old brains" humans share with other primates and the "new brains" unique to humankind (providing "our ability to think, imagine, learn and use symbols and language"). Gilbert argues that it's necessary to accept without shame or guilt our "many dark and cruel potentials," because compassion represents just as powerful a force in the human mind. Human brains, Gilbert explains, have "evolved for social relating," and his approach to self-acceptance involves "thinking about our internal world as being full of 'social-like' relationships" with different personality aspects-the angry self, the compassionate self, the competitive self, etc. He also proposes a number of familiar techniques (mindfulness, controlled breathing, visualization, journaling) to help readers increase compassion, toward our ourselves and others, while dealing with the anxiety, depression, rage, and other uncomfortable emotions relationships can evoke. Though his writing is diffuse, Gilbert has an arresting but rational perspective that should appeal to self-help enthusiasts and newcomers alike.
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“For a long time, Paul Gilbert has been making seminal contributions to our understanding of compassion and how, if systematically cultivated, it can become a force for greater good both in our hearts and in the world. This book offers a deep and compelling evolutionary perspective on the human brain, mind, and culture. It demonstrates how much meaning and our well-being hinge on our innate capacity to extend heartfelt compassion to ourselves and to others. It also guides us in working skillfully with deeply ingrained tendencies such as anxiety, anger, and depression, so they do not dominate our lives and erode our health and happiness. Written with a deep sense of kindness towards all who suffer, including himself, this book is a very friendly, practical, and potentially illuminating and healing gateway to what is deepest and best in ourselves, often completely unknown or unrecognized by us.”
—Jon Kabat-Zinn, Ph.D., professor of medicine emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Medical School and author of Full Catastrophe Living and Coming to Our Senses
“In this impressive volume, Paul Gilbert offers compelling insight into a key challenge of our time: compassion. The reader will find a conceptual and practical guide to cultivating a more compassionate mind. The author gracefully integrates evolutionary neuroscience, cognitive behavioral therapy, Jungian archetypes, attachment theory, Buddhist psychology, and over thirty years of clinical experience into a book you won’t want to miss. Dozens of accessible exercises make this book especially helpful for readers who want to transform their lives for the better.”
—Christopher K. Germer, Ph.D., clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and author of The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion
Daniel J. Siegel, MD, clinical professor at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Medicine and author of Mindsight and The Mindful Brain
“Anyone who struggles with their inner critic should make sure to read this book. Professor Gilbert writes in a masterly fashion about compassionate mind training, an innovative approach which is likely to grow in importance over the next decade as the evidence for its benefits continues to build.”
—David Veale, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College, London
“Paul Gilbert has come forth again with a book about the mind, its unused potential, and how to hardness that potential to one’s and others’ benefit. The Compassionate Mind is a road map to compassion for the self and towards others. It is a book for those curious enough to explore their hidden potential to attain a special kind of humanness and happiness. A ten on a scale from one to ten.” —Michael McGuire, author of Darwinian Psychiatry
“Internationally-renowned psychologist Paul Gilbert has provided all of us with a much-needed book. Written with wisdom and warmth, Gilbert takes us on a journey through the far reaches of evolution to the very depths of our own hearts. This helpful and thoughtful guide to living a compassionate life—for yourself and for others—will be a reminder for many of us that we are all human but that we need to be more humane toward our own troubled selves. Throughout this book, the reader will feel like the author is speaking directly to him or her, and will recognize that it is possible to use the tools of modern psychology to fix what feels broken inside of us. A timely book for a time when competitiveness, materialism, and narcissism have failed us. This book provides timeless wisdom that you can use every day. It will make a wonderful gift for someone you care for, especially if you give it to yourself.”
—Robert L. Leahy, author of The Worry Cure and president of the International Association for Cognitive Psychotherapy
“Paul Gilbert is one of the most brilliant scientists studying compassion today. In this wonderful book, he makes his theories very accessible and down-to-earth. You feel like you’re having a chat in his living room with a warm cup of tea. I also love his easy-to-follow exercises, which offer concrete ways to help you develop greater compassion in daily life.”
—Kristin Neff, associate professor of human development at the University of Texas at Austin
“The increasing drive to find a competitive edge in all aspects of our lives may create efficiencies, but they are cold, heartless, and unpleasant to live with. Gilbert shows how and why this occurs, and explains why our capacity for compassion is the antidote.”
—Oliver James, author of Affluenza and The Selfish Capitalist
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Top customer reviews
The second part of the book goes into various meditation and other techniques you can use to calm yourself down. I found this section to be very helpful and interesting. Ironically, I was reading this book on my computer while sitting next to a highly anxious person on a flight. She was very close to having a panic attack, and I was able to read parts of the book to her and get her engaged in a conversation about what she was feeling-- getting her to describe her anxiety in detail (one of the techniques in the book) and she calmed down. So I guess that's proof that at least one of the techniques works! :)
I understand some of the other reviewers' criticisms of the book in that if you're looking for more immediate solutions and less theory-- this isn't it. This is for individuals who, for whatever reason, want to know the psychological theories behind compassion. Well worth the time invested.
The Compassionate Mind model operates from a premise that should be the basis of any valid psychology: that in order to work effectively with our minds and emotions, we need to understand something about how and why they work the way they do. In 'The Compassionate Mind,' Gilbert skillfully weaves together evolutionary psychology, affective neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and recent psychology applications of Buddhist mindfulness and compassion practices into a model which helps us understand that many of our problems originate in the very ways our brains evolved, and the ways in which they fit with modern life. The reader learns about the evolution of our threat systems and how they predispose us to difficult emotions that evolved to protect us but which have a troublesome fit with both our new brain capacities for fantasy and rumination and the cultural dynamics of modern life. In doing so, Gilbert makes a case for compassion that is both unique and powerful: not only, as the Dalai Lama suggests, is the cultivation of compassion good for us; it is also the only response that makes sense when we observe the difficult fit between our evolved minds and the demands of our lives.
However, this model isn't just about understanding why our minds are so difficult to manage. It presents a theoretical model of emotion based in the neuroscience of affiliation which shows us how to work with them, and fully half of the book is dedicated to exercises for doing so. 'The Compassionate Mind' model teaches us how to work with our soothing/affiliative systems to bring balance to our affective responding, with particular emphasis given to mindfulness and the cultivation of self-compassion. One really nice thing about Gilbert's approach is that it is both deeply explanatory and intensely pragmatic - he wants us to understand our minds, but at the end of the day, his business is giving us practical tools for working with them. He does all of this in his friendly, conversational tone, so that it feels less like a dense read than a pleasant chat over a cup of tea, or perhaps a glass of red wine.
Rather than writing a book in the attempt to capture this one, I'll simply state that if you've bothered to read this, you owe it to yourself to buy this book. While written for the general reader, it is also a wonderful read for clinicians who would like a friendly introduction to the Compassionate Mind model, which provides the basis for Compassion-Focused Therapy. For those who've read the above and note that there are already plenty of therapy models based upon Mindfulness and compassionate acceptance, I'd like to say that in my view, Compassion-Focused Therapy is not another "therapy model" per se, and seemingly doesn't seek to add itself to the already dizzying list of Empirically Supported Treatment models (although it certainly is the subject of much evolving empirical work); rather, CFT provides a frame for understanding and approaching psychological functioning generally and emotional difficulties in particular. As such, it provides a unifying framework that is compatible with many empirically-based therapy approaches, while providing therapists and clients with a better understanding of the way our minds work and a model for working with them effectively. In doing so, it introduces new ways of working with our clients (for example, the purposeful cultivation of compassion for oneself and others), and couches already-proven methods in a context of warmth and a theoretical understanding of affective functioning that may very well enhance their effectiveness. In my opinion, if you're looking to ride the "third wave" of therapy, this may very well be the longboard of choice. Enjoy!
Thank you for being who you are, Dr Gilbert.