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Title: First time mothers : exploring the relationship between shame memories, and the experiences of shame, compassion and motherhood
Author: Gaynor, Danielle
ISNI:       0000 0004 5990 5058
Awarding Body: University of East London
Current Institution: University of East London
Date of Award: 2016
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Background Shame memories from childhood/adolescence, which operate as traumatic memories and become central to personal identity, have been associated with shame in adulthood. Shame has been reported in the context of motherhood but not yet investigated within Gilbert’s (1998, 2010) biopsychosocial framework. Self-compassion, as an orientation to care for oneself has been found to buffer people against the psychological impact of stressful events, such as the transition to motherhood. Aims Drawing on the biopsychosocial framework, this study aimed firstly to profile the shame memories of first time mothers in the UK and Ireland. Secondly, it aimed to explore the relationships between the traumatic and centrality features of shame memories, shame, compassion, fears of compassion and emotional adjustment to motherhood. Method Drawing on a critical realist epistemological position, this study adopted a crosssectional, quantitative approach. New mothers (N = 133) across the UK and Ireland were recruited on social media forums to complete a series of established self-report questionnaires via an online survey platform. Results The most frequently selected category of shame situation recalled by mothers was ‘exposure of perceived negative personal attributes, characteristics, behaviour to others’ (N = 34). Canonical correlation analysis revealed that shame memories predicted shame, compassion and fears of compassion. Multiple regression analysis revealed self-compassion to be the only significant predictor of emotional adjustment to motherhood in the model. Shame did not moderate this relationship. iii Conclusion Participants experienced shame, fears of receiving compassion and low levels of self-compassion suggesting that they may be experiencing distress with insufficient access to self-soothing skills. Nonetheless, a more selfcompassionate attitude was associated with greater emotional adjustment to motherhood. Perinatal health services are advised to promote the development of compassion at all levels.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral