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.
PRACTITIONER POINTS: Low levels of self-compassion are associated with being more distressed by psychotic experiences. As the self-compassion facets isolation and overidentification are most strongly related to distress, prevention and intervention programmes may benefit from focusing on these negative facets.