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26-10-2018 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 5/2019

Mindfulness 5/2019

Modes of Processing Trauma: Self-Compassion Buffers Affective Guilt

Mindfulness > Uitgave 5/2019
Christine E. Valdez, Michelle M. Lilly


Self-compassion (SC) entails being kind toward oneself when in pain and holding painful experiences in mindful awareness, and has been associated with lower levels of posttraumatic stress severity. Recent research suggests SC may be more relevant to the current conceptualization of PTSD that is based on the DSM-5 definition, which includes a new symptom cluster focused on alterations of cognitions and mood such as guilt. We examined effects of SC on affective guilt as a function of treatment-relevant processing modes. One week after completing the SC Scale, 63 victimized women were randomly assigned to one of three processing mode induction conditions: “analytic” (brooding), “experiential” (mindful experiencing), or control. Following induction, women completed a trauma-specific perseverative thinking interview to process their trauma. Before induction (T1) and after the interview (T2), women completed a measure of affective guilt. Guilt increased from T1 to T2, and SC was negatively related to increases in guilt. Processing mode conditions moderated the relation between SC and changes in guilt; simple slopes revealed a negative relation among the analytic condition. Components of SC, including greater self-kindness and mindfulness, were related to diminished increases in guilt. Results suggest SC can buffer feelings of guilt, especially in those who process their trauma analytically. Implications for research are discussed.

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