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The Compassionate Mind (Compassion Focused Therapy) [Paperback]

Paul Gilbert
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Jan 2010 Compassion Focused Therapy
Throughout history people have sought to cope with a life that is often stressful and hard. We have actually known for some time that developing compassion for oneself and others can help us face up to and win through the hardship and find a sense of inner peace. However in modern societies we rarely focus on this key process that underpins successful coping and happiness and can be quick to dismiss the impact of modern living on our minds and well-being. Instead we concentrate on 'doing, achieving' and having'. Now, bestselling author and leading authority on depression, Professor Paul Gilbert explains how new research shows how we can all learn to develop compassion for ourselves and others and derive the benefits of this age-old wisdom. In this ground-breaking new book he explores how our minds have developed to be highly sensitive and quick to react to perceived threats and how this fast-acting threat-response system can be a source of anxiety, depression and aggression. He describes how studies have also shown that developing kindness and compassion for self and others can hep in calming down the threat system: as a mother's care and love can soothe a baby's distress, so we can learn how to soothe ourselves. Not only does compassion help to soothe distressing emotions, it actually increases feelings of contentment and well-being. Here, Professor Gilbert outlines the latest findings about the value of compassion and how it works, and takes readers through basic mind training exercises to enhance the capacity for, and use of, compassion.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 540 pages
  • Publisher: Constable; Re-issue edition (7 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1849010986
  • ISBN-13: 978-1849010986
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Professor Paul Gilbert is the author of the bestselling self-help guide Overcoming Depression and audio CD Overcoming Depression: Talks With Your Therapist. He is Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Derby and Director of the Mental Health Research Unit, Derbyshire Mental Health Trust.

Product Description


As somebody who suffers from severe depression, I know the depressive's harshest critic is themselves. It is never helpful to be told to pull ourselves together by others but saying it to ourselves leads us in only one direction - into a spiralling descent into despair. This wise and perceptive book teaches us self-compassion and the consolations of kindness. I recommend it all the time. (Sally Brampton, author of Shoot the Damn Dog: A Memoir of Depression and the Aunt Sally column in The Sunday Times )

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 )

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 )

Fascinating ... thoughtful and well written ... this book is a resource to be owned and used with enjoyment (Nursing Standard )

A challenging and useful addition to anyone's self-help shelf, as well as a refreshingly rigorous look behind why our brains work the way they do. In fact, this is a self-help book for people who don't like self-help books. (ONEinFOUR magazine )

Important and enjoyable. (The Psychologist )

A landmark book (The Scientific and Medical Network )

Interesting and helpful. (Mental Health Practice )

Book Description

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Having suffered from depression, anxiety and emotional problems from a very early age I was drawn to this book when I was introduced to Mindfulness during therapy. I'd recommend this book to any one, mental health problems or not. I've learnt so much.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very long book indeed of two halves 4 May 2012
By Lady Fancifull TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Firstly, I'm very sorry this has vanished from the Kindle - I have just finished reading mine ON the Kindle, so at some point last month it was available on download.

In many ways, the book has two audiences, which Gilbert has condensed into one : those who are particularly interested in neurobiology, and an examination of society, spirituality and altruism from an evolutionary angle, and those who might be looking at a practical approach involving an enhanced fusion of CBT and compassionate mindful meditation in order to deal with anxiety, depression and anger. And I can quite clearly see that the magnificent laying out of the first half of the book, where Gilbert explains the evolution of the classic fight, flight, and seeking/reward activities of the the sympathetic nervous system, and the ameliorating/consolidating activities of the parasympathetic nervous system is going to be extremely helpful to those who are reading the book in order to engage with the practical and self help exercises.

However, it made for a very long (and very repetitious) read for someone interested in the former, who already uses aspects of the latter. On one level I was tempted to stop reading at the end of Part 1, - except that I realised that there was more interesting Part 1 type material buried within Part 2.

And I completely understand the value of the Part 2 material being endlessly repetitive about bringing the image of your compassionate person/self to mind, sitting with the smile, journalling etc etc. Except that this wasn't the book I wanted to read.
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63 of 69 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I came to this book soon after reading Karen Armstrong's Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life and the common purpose was striking; to help us all become more compassionate, to ourselves and others, so that we may then build a better more compassionate world and become happier, kinder and healthier individuals in the process.

The book is built around "compassionate mind training" and the idea, now with some scientific evidence, is that we have the wiring in our brain for compassion, and that we have evolved to thrive on caring behaviour, on kindness and compassion. The problem is that too often our "old brain" reptilian instincts of the four F's (feeding, fighting, fleeing and ...reproduction) take control of our lives. The very good news for humanity is that our propensity for compassion not only reflects the genes we are born with, but also to some extent is a result of the effect of early upbringing, and very significantly can be developed with the right exercises and practices - "physiotherapy for the brain."

Part One, in 6 chapters over c. 250 pages shares the science - how our minds and brains work and why compassion is a powerful healing process. This understanding, he stresses, is important for us in being able to most effectively develop that compassionate mind. He explains ten life challenges that we will meet along the way, such as competitive business efficiency that threatens our need for interconnectedness, (business efficiency he says is "crippling our hearts"), and the tragedies of life that can send us to despair and depression rather than compassion. He also writes of the three basic emotion regulation systems that evolution has given us: threat and self- protection, incentive and resource seeking, and our soothing and contentment system.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Does what it says on the tin - recommended 20 Feb 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book more than lives up to its good reviews. Well explained theory and plenty of clear exercises for practice. Before buying I had read some of the ideas on the website run by Prof Gilbert and colleagues, so I knew what to expect. I think you could benefit from the practice even if a) the psychological theory is all new to you and/or b)Buddhism and mindfulness are new to you. Highly recommended.
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31 of 35 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Compassionate Face of CBT 28 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm a psychotherapist (UKCP registered) and CBT practitioner myself and I've been fortunate enough to hear Prof. Gilbert speak about his approach. (I remember my ears pricked up at his references to Pink Floyd, not referenced in this book, but we learn he's also a Star Trek fan, adding flashes of personality to a potentially quite academic subject.) His emphasis on compassion does seem to address a weakness in "traditional" CBT, especially for certain traumatised or depressed clients. It's also closely linked to the whole mindfulness-based orientation. My special interst is in Stoic philosophy which I was pleased to see Prof. Gilbert discusses briefly, but favourably, throughout chapter 9, recognising the similarities with Oriental Buddhist practices. I see this as a form of CBT that will appeal more to humanistic therapists and also, with its references to Jungian archetypes and Bowlby's attachment theory, to psychodynamic therapists who find themselves becoming involved with the cognitive-behavioural field. There's also a notable emphasis on what evolutionary psychology tells us about our brain and emotions. However, although it's quite thick (nearly 600 pages!) this is an engaging book, easy to read, and bound to be immensely helpful both to therapists and clients, as it's written in what I would call a popular science or self-help style and intended to be used as a practical guide to cultivating therapeutic compassion and self-acceptance for one's own wellbeing.

Donald Robertson, author of,
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
This book taught me a lot and I bought copies for other people who also rated it highly.
Published 2 days ago by R J Railton
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing.
Published 15 days ago by K
2.0 out of 5 stars Compassionate Dollars for a Gullbile Audience
This book is a load of tripe. Why? This author showcases what I will call 'the modern age of stupidity in scientific proportions'. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Tim
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant
This book is great I done group therapy and it was based on this book, so I found it to read to help myself further and others, deffo recommend
Published 1 month ago by nicki simpson
4.0 out of 5 stars A day late, good condition.
I received it a day past deadline, plus, it arrived with the package half-open.
Although the cover is slightly bent, the book is in great condition.
Published 1 month ago by Vítor Rocha
5.0 out of 5 stars Very True
Once you are compassionate towards yourself things change. This book explains and guides you through this. Read more
Published 2 months ago by gemma95
5.0 out of 5 stars great read
This is a great book. Lovely read. Helps with my counselling studies. Is great for anyone who tends yo be 'too hard' on themselves.
Published 2 months ago by laura
3.0 out of 5 stars Well written but not inspiring
A weighty book, haven’t had time to wade through all of it. Doesn’t seem too onerous e.g. well written but not inspiring.
Published 5 months ago by Ms S Marshall
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Intelligent, insightful, non-condecsending and well written. It cut through many myths, and corrected many misconceptions I had held about mindfulness. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ian
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful book
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Totally changed my outlook on life. Wish I'd read this years ago.
Published 7 months ago by LJK83
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