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Table of Contents

PART I: EVOLUTION AND THE NATURE OF COMPASSION 1 Compassion: Definitions and controversies 2: Prehistoric origins: The compassion of far distant strangers 3 Compassion as a Social Mentality: An evolutionary approach 4: Mindfulness and Compassion: Similarities and differences PART II: COMPASSION AND ITS PHYSIOLOGIES 5: The body of compassion 6: The psychobiological foundation of prosocial relationships: The role of oxytocin in daily social exchanges 7: Compassion in the Autonomic Nervous System: The role of the vagus nerve 8: Compassion and the Brain 9: Behavior Genetics of Prosocial Behavior PART III: COMPASSION AND RELATIONSHIP 10: Evolution, Child Raising and Compassionate Morality 11: An Attachment Perspective on Compassion and Altruism 12: Broaden-and-Build Theory Meets Interpersonal Neurobiology as a Lens on Compassion and Positivity Resonance PART IV: APPLYING COMPASSION 13: Positive Leadership, Power and Compassion 14: Compassionate Leadership for Compassionate Health Care 15: The Emergence of the Compassion Focused Therapies

About the Author

Paul Gilbert, OBE, is Professor of Clinical Psychology, University of Derby, and has been actively involved in research and treating people with shame-based and mood disorders for over 30 years. He is a past President of the British Association for Cognitive and Behavioural Psychotherapy and a fellow of the British Psychological Society. He was awarded the OBE for contributions to mental health in 2011.


"This exciting collection of chapters will bring readers up-to-date with the latest developments in compassion research. Compassion has become an essential psychological concept with developmental, biological, and social roots as well as a wide variety of applications"

Chris R. Brewin, Professor of Clinical Psychology, University College London.

"Given the explosion of interest in compassion in many disciplines and professions, this overview of compassion is extremely timely. Paul Gilbert has assembled a stellar lineup of international experts, and the resulting book is essential for all who are interested in better understanding or fostering compassion. The book is remarkably comprehensive, addressing fundamental definitional and conceptual issues, the psychobiology of compassion, its origin in and impact on relationships, and its potential transformative role in leadership, health care, and psychotherapy. The book brilliantly summarizes the current state of compassion research and application and will serve as a catalyst for future explorations and developments."

David C. Zuroff, Professor of Clinical Psychology, McGill University, Montreal.

"This remarkable and powerful book links the practice of mindful compassion to basic science and theory effortlessly. Paul Gilbert has assembled and organized a truly excellent anthology of the essential elements regarding Compassion Focused Therapy and the applied research on compassion. Practitioners of evidence based psychotherapy who wish to remain at the cutting edge of their science need this book. I give this my highest recommendation."

Denis Tirch, Founding Director,The Center for Compassion Focused Therapy, USA.

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