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Self-Criticism and Self-Warmth: An Imagery Study Exploring Their Relation to Depression

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When things go wrong for people, those who are self-critical, compared to those who self-reassure, are at increased risk of psychopathology. However, little is known of the internal processes involved in self-criticism and self-reassurance, such as the ease of eliciting critical imagery, and the power, emotion and vividness of self-criticalness and self-reassurance. This study used a self-imagery task to investigate trait self-criticism and trait self-reassurance in relation to the ease and clarity of generating self-critical and self-reassuring images, and the felt power and emotion of self-critical and self-reassuring imagery. We also explored these in relation to depressive symptoms in students. Results suggested that trait self-criticism is associated with ease and clarity in generating hostile and powerful self-critical images, while trait self-reassurance is associated with ease and clarity of generating warm and supportive images of the self. Data analysis using structural equation models also suggests that difficulties in generating self-reassurance and compassionate images about the self with self-directed warmth, may also contribute to depressive symptoms. Thus self-critics may not only suffer for elevated negative feelings about the self but may also struggle to be able to generate self-supportive images and feelings for the self, and these difficulties could be a focus of therapeutic interventions.
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Keywords: DEPRESSION; IMAGERY; SELF-CRITICAL; SELF-REASSURANCE; SOOTHING; WARMTH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 June 2006

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  • Effective July 1, 2018 Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy will no longer be hosted on Ingenta Connect. Please go to http://connect.springerpub.com/content/sgrjcp to access your online subscription to Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy.
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