The evolution of caring and compassion and the healing of trauma

In Compassion Focused Therapy, compassion is regarded as rooted in a basic if A then do B stimulus response algorithm.

This algorithm evolved in different ways but predominantly with the evolution of attachment, where the parent (usually the mother) evolved feature detectors to be sensitive to the distress/suffering and needs of her infant which would trigger appropriate alleviation behaviour. What also co-evolved was for infants to become sensitive and physiologically receptive  to signals/stimuli of caring. The co-evolution and reciprocal dynamic interactional motive of caring has been called a social mentality. Stimulus sensitivity and response are regulated through different processes, and both are underpinned by competencies to create a secure base and safe haven. The talk will also outline how, arising from the evolution of caring and attachment, we have two very different forms of threat regulation and explorative behaviour, one via direct engagement and the other via turning to others.

This talk will introduce the evolutionary concepts of compassion, explore the competencies that underpin our abilities to courageously engage with suffering in self and others and the processes that support wise action for appropriate responding. Courage and wisdom are at the heart of compassion. Courage without wisdom can be reckless and wisdom without courage can be ineffective. The talk will explore how these two processes are central to the development of a compassionate approach to trauma, such that when activated compassion can have direct effects on threat and trauma processing.

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