Can deficits in empathy after head injury be improved by compassionate imagery?

O'Neill, M. and McMillan, T.M. (2012) Can deficits in empathy after head injury be improved by compassionate imagery? Neuropsychological Rehabilitation, 22(6), pp. 836-851. (doi: 10.1080/09602011.2012.691886)

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Severe head injury (SHI) can result in problems in empathising, which in turn is associated with social difficulties. Compassionate imagery can increase compassion in the non-brain injured and alter how they relate to themselves and others. This preliminary study investigates whether compassionate imagery can increase empathy in those with low empathy after SHI. Design: A between-group repeated measures design using 24 participants with severe SHI and low empathy, randomly allocated to a single treatment session of compassionate imagery or a control condition of relaxation. Empathy, self-compassion and relaxation were assessed pre and post-intervention and fear of compassion pre-intervention as a potential covariate. Results: A group effect of compassionate imagery on empathy was not found (F(1, 21) = 0.12, p = 0.73). A non-specific increase in self-compassion approached significance (T = 78.00, p = 0.07, r = -.26). Fear of compassion did not correlate significantly with changes in self-compassion or empathy. Conclusions: Demographic and injury factors associated with SHI that may impact on treatment effectiveness are discussed. Further research that takes these factors into account is warranted.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:McMillan, Professor Tom
Authors: O'Neill, M., and McMillan, T.M.
Subjects:R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > Mental Health and Wellbeing
Journal Name:Neuropsychological Rehabilitation
Publisher:Psychology Press

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