Thursday, 29 January 2015

Mindfulness: the effectiveness in tuning interpersonal feelings was tested for the first time

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An international team of researchers, coordinated by Alessandro GrecucciRemo Job and Nicola De Pisapia of the Department of Psychology and Cognitive science of the University of Trento, is trying to demonstrate how the mindfulness – a technique for an aware meditation rooted in the Buddhist meditation – can contribute in a significant manner in the tuning of interpersonal feelings and help in mitigating some of the psychopathological disorders most widely spread in the western society.

Among these disorders, anxiety is a pathology difficult to evaluate. Yet it affects 3% of the population every year and up to 5% of the population during an individual’s lifetime, thus being one of the most prevailing disorders. The same is true for depression, which affects 10% of the US population every year, or personality disorders - affecting 2% of the population, which have been increasingly interesting during the last two decades, above all from the clinical viewpoint. 

The empirical results of the research “Baseline and strategic effects behind mindful emotion regulation: behavioral and physiological investigation”, recently published in the scientific journal Plos One poses four important questions: what are the processes through which the mindfulness tunes our feelings? Which technique can be applied to social feelings? Can this change our behaviors towards other people? Can this alter our physiological reactivity? 

“The empirical study carried out on two different groups of people showed as the mindfulness alters the subjective and physiological perception of interpersional feelings and it modifies the interaction in the social behaviour of individuals”, said Alessandro Grecucci, who is a neuroscientist and a psychotherapist. 

The existence of deficits in the regulation of interpersonal feelings has been associated with the presence of severe psychiatric disorders, with patients who show exaggerated reactivity or, on the contrary, suppressed reactivity in their relationship with other individuals. 

Gregucci explained that “Understanding how these alternations take place and what the implications are regarding the psychotherapeutic treatments is fundamental. The inclusion of some principles deriving from mindfulness focused on the emotions in the (Experiential-Dynamic Emotion Regulation, EDER) which we are currently working on, can redefine the techniques of emotional regulation to apply at clinical level”. 

The artichle published by Plos One is available online