One in five people suffer serious depression during the course of their lives, and repeated episodes can cause depression to become more ‘autonomous’ i.e. it requires smaller and smaller amounts of stress to trigger another episode.
Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) was developed by Zindel Segal, John Teasdale and Mark Williams based on Jon Kabat-Zinn’s mindfulness-based stress reduction programme for chronic pain. Their aim was to apply Kabat-Zinn’s insights from a physical health setting to mental health; to find an effective approach to preventing new episodes of depression for people who were highly vulnerable to experience repeated episodes.
This lecture asks how MBCT fits with basic psychological science, looking at examples from psychology over the last 50 years. In particular, we will consider four areas of psychological science that mindfulness addresses: the costs of dividing attention, how the mind affects the body (and vice versa), how we succeed or fail to remember to do things we plan to do, and the effects on the mind of trying to prevent unpleasant experience.
Mark Williams is Emeritus Professor of Clinical Psychology at the University of Oxford. His research focuses on understanding how best to build resilience and mental fitness in order to prevent depression and suicide. Professor Williams has held posts at the Medical Research Council’s Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit at Cambridge and the University of Wales, Bangor and was Founding Director of the University of Oxford’s Mindfulness Centre that works to prevent depression and enhance human potential through the therapeutic use of mindfulness across the lifespan. He is author of many research articles and books, including The Mindful Way through Depression: Freeing Yourself from Chronic Unhappiness (with John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabat-Zinn) and Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World (with Danny Penman). He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and the British Academy.
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