University of Leicester
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Shame, self-criticism and self-compassion in eating disorders

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posted on 2014-12-15, 10:46 authored by Alexandra Barrow
Research has suggested that shame and self-criticism are important to eating disorders. Highly shame-prone individuals are thought to have difficulty feeling warmth for the self. Self-compassion is a new construct associated with being able to self-soothe and feel kindness for the self. To date, self-compassion has not been explored clinically in people with eating disorders, however, cognitive therapies have begun to incorporate related areas such as mindfulness.;The aim of the study was to explore relationships between eating disorder symptoms, internal and external shame, self-criticism variables (including self-reassurance) and self-compassion in a sample of women with eating disorders attending an outpatient specialist eating disorder service.;The study used a cross-sectional, correlational design. Seventy-six female participants completed a series of self-report measures assessing anorexic and bulimic cognition and behaviours, shame, self-criticism and self-compassion. Data were analysed using Pearson's Product Moment correlations.;There were significant relationships between anorexic cognitions and internal and external shame, and between anorexic cognitions and behaviours and types of self-criticism. Anorexic cognitions were significantly negatively related to self-compassion. Self-compassion was significantly negatively related to all the shame and self-criticism variables, and positively related to self-reassuring. Self-compassion may protect against anorexic cognitions and associated beliefs associated with shame and self-criticism.;Conclusions: Women with eating disorders are highly shame-prone and engage in self-critical thinking. Self-compassion may be a clinically useful construct but this requires further research.


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Awarding institution

University of Leicester

Qualification level

  • Doctoral

Qualification name

  • DClinPsy



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