In our sister blog The Alcoholics Guide to Alcoholism one of our contributors has been charting his progress through EMDR therapy for complex post traumatic stress disorder in the following blogs starting with the most recent –
The intention to is to help readers understand the healing from Complex PTSD by marrying the actual experience of EMDR treatment, via a personal journey of healing, with the research literature on EMDR to more fully understand the processes and mechanisms involved in recovery from C-PTSD.
The purpose of this blogsite is to more accurately conceptualise addiction and related co-occurring conditions such as C-PTSD so that readers have more knowledge and awareness about what therapeutic strategies are out there to help them in their recovery. Obviously, it is also very useful to those who do not suffer form addictive behaviour too but suffer the persistent effects of trauma and insecure attachment.
We firmly believe, that after initial treatment for addictive behaviour, many will need to address and have treatment for some of the co-occurring conditions which make one’s addictive behaviours more chronic/severe and which in treating these effectively will help sustain a long term recovery not only from addictive behaviours but also from these co-occurring conditions.
Today we start our look at Compassion Focussed EMDR (which will be over a series of blogs) as our contributor’s own EMDR therapy is getting closer to successful completion and there has been a therapeutic shift in a focus to the use of compassion in healing, which we believe is becoming more prevalent in EMDR treatment generally.
Here we cite and use excerpts form a very good review (1) to explain in this part of the blog what it meant compassion and how it effects our interaction with ourselves and others. The next blog will look a the effect of trauma on compassion.
“Compassion is a felt experience relating to sympathy that motivates people toward need or distress and is demonstrated by care-giving behaviors (Gilbert, 2009, 2010).
It is generated from a sensitivity to suffering and a motivation to do something active to help that suffering (Dalai Lama, 2005). Humans are social animals with evolved systems of attachment and social behaviors which enhance our survival (Cortina & Liotti, 2010). Such survival is linked to compassionate behavior that evolved to enhance cooperation, which protects others within a social network (Goetz, Keltner, & Simon-Thomas, 2010). Compassion may manifest in thoughts, an emotional state, bodily experiences, and behavioral impulses. MacLean (1990) developed the idea of the evolved triune brain that demonstrates the central position of care-related motivations in our psychology.
The reptilian brain is the oldest and controls arousal and drives and is responsible for basic threat defenses and ranking in the group. The mammalian brain mediates emotion, attachment motivation, and memory and is governed by the limbic system, which lies over the reptilian brain. The neocortex is responsible for self-conscious awareness, abstract ideas, planning, and accessible thought processes and is the most recently evolved aspect of the human brain. It likely evolved in conjunction with our complex social systems (Gilbert, 1989; Irons & Gilbert, 2005; MacLean, 1990). Although many motivational systems are concerned with resources, survival, reproduction, or exploration, a compassionate motivation is linked to archetypal influences over our behavior in social situations (Gilbert, 1989, 2007). These social motivations include the capacity to give and receive care, both to oneself and others.
Depue and Morrone-Strupinsky (2005) found two types of positive emotion. One was related to caregiving, affiliation, and social safeness, whereas the other was related to agency and pleasure. Compassion is linked to emotion regulation through good, safe, affiliative experiences. Such attachment experiences are highly related to soothing capacity, persons’ mindfulness of their own mind, and their ability to appreciate the motivations of others (Bateman & Fonagy, 2012).
Experiencing the behavior of others teaches us how we are perceived by them and this in turn influences what we think of ourselves (Bateman & Fonagy, 2012). Loving relationships create a sense of self-worth through internalized expectations of patience and kindness. Self-compassion is about self-acceptance, which directs kindness and support toward the self even when faced with challenges (Neff, 2003a). It encourages reflective capacities about oneself and others. Compassion-focused therapy has an emphasis on affiliative-based soothing because internal models of positive relationships can downregulate threat even in the imagination. Such neurobiological soothing capacities can engage with suffering rather than avoid it and build resilience by moderating the brain’s threat-based alarm system (Germer, 2009; Gilbert, 2009; Siegel, 2010).