The Compassionate Mind by Professor Paul Gilbert

Paul Gilbert is the head of the Mental Health Research Unit as well as Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby. He has a degree in Economics, a Masters in Experimental Psychology and a PhD in Clinical Psychology. He was made a fellow of the British Psychological Society for contributions to psychological knowledge in 1993 and was president of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy in 2003. He has also served on the government depression NICE guideline committee.

He has published and edited 21 books. After years of exploring the processes underpinning shame and its role in a variety of psychopathologies, his current research is exploring the neurophysiology and therapeutic effectiveness of compassion focused therapy.

In societies that encourage us to compete with each other, compassion is often seen as a weakness. Striving to get ahead, self-criticism, fear and hostility towards others seem to come more naturally to us. This groundbreaking new self-help book explains the evolutionary and social reasons why our brains are also hardwired to respond to kindness and compassion.

Research has found that developing kindness and compassion for ourselves and others builds our confidence, helps us create meaningful, caring relationships and promotes physical and mental health. Far from fostering emotional weakness, practical exercises focusing on developing compassion have been found to subdue our anger and increase our courage and resilience to depression and anxiety.

Based on evolutionary research and scientific studies of how the brain processes emotional information, this compassionate approach offers an appealing alternative to the traditional western view of compassion, which sometimes sees it as a sign of weakness and can encourage self-criticism and a hard-nosed drive to achieve.