Shenpa and Compassionate Abiding: Mindfulness-Based Practices for Anger and Aggression by Individuals with Schizophrenia

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Uncontrolled anger is often expressed as verbal and physical aggression. Some people with schizophrenia engage in verbal and physical aggression when they cannot control their anger either through the use of psychotropic medication or psychosocial interventions. In this study, we taught three individuals with long-standing anger management problems the concept of shenpa—the almost instantaneous reaction of the mind to some internal or external stimulus that hooks them to a negative emotion—and a mindfulness-based practice that helped them to intuit this without attachment or anger. In addition, we taught them the mindfulness-based practice of compassionate abiding for dealing with emotionally arousing feelings that follow shenpa. Using a multiple baseline design, we assessed the effects of the two mindfulness-based practices on anger, verbal aggression and physical aggression. The three individuals were able to decrease their anger, greatly reduce verbal aggression, and virtually eliminate physical aggression.

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