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PLoS One. 2014 Nov 12;9(11):e111933. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0111933. eCollection 2014.

Embodying compassion: a virtual reality paradigm for overcoming excessive self-criticism.

Author information

1
Clinical Educational & Health Psychology, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
2
Department of Computer Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom; Instituci├│ Catalana de Recerca i Estudis Avan├žats, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
3
Department of Computer Science, University College London, London, United Kingdom.
4
Mental Health Research Unit, University of Derby, Derby, United Kingdom.

Abstract

Virtual reality has been successfully used to study and treat psychological disorders such as phobias and posttraumatic stress disorder but has rarely been applied to clinically-relevant emotions other than fear and anxiety. Self-criticism is a ubiquitous feature of psychopathology and can be treated by increasing levels of self-compassion. We exploited the known effects of identification with a virtual body to arrange for healthy female volunteers high in self-criticism to experience self-compassion from an embodied first-person perspective within immersive virtual reality. Whereas observation and practice of compassionate responses reduced self-criticism, the additional experience of embodiment also increased self-compassion and feelings of being safe. The results suggest potential new uses for immersive virtual reality in a range of clinical conditions.

PMID:
25389766
PMCID:
PMC4229123
DOI:
10.1371/journal.pone.0111933
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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