The link between self-compassion and psychotic-like experiences: A matter of distress?

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Abstract

Objectives:

Self-shaming and self-criticism have been shown to contribute to the emergence of distressing psychotic symptoms and psychotic-like experiences (PLEs). In contrast, a self-compassionate mindset may protect against negative evaluations in response to PLEs leading to less distress. This study explores the association between self-compassion, the frequency of PLEs, and their associated distress.

Design:

The study used a correlational, cross-sectional design on a German community sample.

Methods:

A total of 234 participants completed the self-compassion scale (SCS), the Peters’ Delusions Inventory, and a modified version of the Launay–Slade Hallucination Scale that measures frequency and distress of hallucinatory experiences. Pearson correlations between SCS and frequency of PLEs as well as between SCS and PLE-distress were compared. Additionally, network analyses of SCS and PLE-measures were calculated.

Results:

Self-compassion was associated with less-frequent PLEs and with less PLE-distress, with stronger correlations between self-compassion and PLE-distress. The network analysis showed the self-compassion facets isolation and overidentification to be the closest links to PLE-distress.

Conclusions:

Self-compassion is associated with less PLE related distress. Prevention programmes and interventions that target the negative facets associated with lack of self-compassion may be promising. However, future studies need to explore the causal role of self-compassion facets in the formation of PLE-distress.

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