Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 777–786 | Cite as

Self-Compassion, Self-Injury, and Pain

  • Wesley Ellen Gregory
  • Jillian V. Glazer
  • Kathy R. BerensonEmail author
Brief Report


We conducted an experiment to examine self-compassion and responses to pain among undergraduate women with and without histories of self-injury. After a writing task that has been shown to increase self-compassion in a values-affirming condition relative to a neutral control condition, participants completed a self-report measure of state self-compassion and the cold pressor task. As predicted, participants with a history of self-injury reported lower trait self-compassion than those without such a history, and participants in the values-affirming condition reported significantly higher state self-compassion than those in the control condition. Moreover, participants with a history of self-injury demonstrated significantly less insensitivity to pain in the values-affirming condition than the control condition. Future research should investigate the possibility that interventions involving self-compassion and/or affirmation of values may help correct high-risk responses to pain among those who self-injure.


Self-harm Self-compassion Pain tolerance Pain perception Values affirmation 



This work was supported by Gettysburg College funding for senior projects (to Gregory) and by a Research and Professional Development grant from Gettysburg College (to Berenson). We thank to Jessica C. Johnson, Sarah M. Van De Weert and Fanghui Zhao for their assistance with data collection.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Wesley Ellen Gregory, Jillian V. Glazer, and Kathy R. Berenson declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wesley Ellen Gregory
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jillian V. Glazer
    • 1
  • Kathy R. Berenson
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Psychology DepartmentGettysburg CollegeGettysburgUSA
  2. 2.Psychology DepartmentThe New School for Social ResearchNew YorkUSA

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