Self-compassion in relation to mental health : A theoretical cognitive neuroscientific overview and an empirical correlation study on Indian university students
Abstract: This thesis reviews the literature on theoretical cognitive neuroscientific findings linked to self-compassion, emotion regulation and compassion. Further, an empirical study was conducted with the aim to investigate correlational findings of self-compassion in relation to mental health in India. Mental health was measured through positive and negative affect, symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder and depression. The background of the thesis is mainly centred on the emotion regulation strategy cognitive reappraisal and compassion to provide more understanding of the links regarding self-compassion and mental health. The neural underpinnings regarding reappraisal and self-compassion are mostly related to dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, ventral striatum, anterior cingulate cortex, ventromedial prefrontal cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, insula and amygdala. These regions are involved in functions such as attention, memory, reward, emotion processes and responses. The correlational study involved 91 south Indian university students between the age of 19-24 years. The most significant results indicate a strong negative relationship between self-compassion and negative affect. Self-compassion was moderately positively correlated with positive affect. Furthermore, self-compassion was moderately negatively correlated with symptoms of depression. In addition, a strong positive correlation between negative affect and symptoms of depression was found. A discussion regarding current findings in relation to the neural underpinnings of emotion regulation and self-compassion, limitations of the study as well as directions for future research is provided.
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