Date of Award

Spring 5-16-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

MA - Master of Arts


Mindfulness Studies

First Advisor

Melissa Jean

Second Advisor

Andrew Olendzki


This writing explores shame and its distress. It does so through a historical examination of Western psychological theories of emotion compared to emotions as seen through Buddhist psychology, based upon scholars and authorities within these respective fields. Further, it explores some Western psychotherapeutic approaches used to alleviate (unhealthy) shame compared to Buddhist mindfulness methods for alleviating aversive emotions and their efficacy, alone or in combination. The question examined is whether mindfulness grounded in Buddhist psychology and teachings, when applied within Western therapeutic settings and populations, is an effective and appropriate means to help alleviate aversive states of shame.

To identify therapeutic approaches utilizing mindfulness-based or other approaches to alleviate shame and psychological distress, database searches (primarily PubMed and PsycInfo with some auxiliary searches of Google Scholar) were conducted of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, Compassion Focused Therapy, and Shame Resilience Theory to locate systematic reviews or meta-analytic research studies of their therapeutic effectiveness, primarily on psychological disorders, published from 2010-2020. After an overview of study outcomes, a discussion follows of their respective benefit (or harm) as well as opportunities for greater integration or further exploration of the application of mindfulness meditative techniques to shame or other aversive emotions.

Keywords: mindfulness, shame, Western theories of emotion, Buddhist psychology

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.