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The Compassionate Mind Hardcover – 26 Mar 2009

4.3 out of 5 stars 143 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 513 pages
  • Publisher: Constable (26 Mar. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184529713X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1845297138
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 4.5 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 323,825 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)

The increasing drive to find a competitive edge in all aspects of our lives may create efficiencies but it is cold, heartless and unpleasant to live with. Gilbert shows how and why this occurs, and why a capacity for compassion is the antidote. Trust Gilbert - he knows the difference between wisdom and knowledge. (Oliver James, author of They F*** You Up and Affluenza)

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 benefit continues to build. (David VealePresident British Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapies 2006-8)

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, University of Texas at Austin)

Like so frequently in the past, Paul Gilbert has come forth again with a book about the mind, its unused potential, and how to harness that potential to one's and others' benefit. The Compassionate Mind is a roadmap 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 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. (Michael McGuire, author Darwinian Psychiatry)

A useful addition to any nursing library and ... of interest to anyone with a concern for mental health issues. (Learning Disability Practice)

Deeply empowering (Kindred Spirit magazine)

Important and enjoyable. (The Psychologist)

Book Description

A landmark new book from the author of the bestselling Overcoming Depression.

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Inside This Book

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
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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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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