Mindfulness and health


Sir, – Ronald E Purser’s views on McMindfulness (Joe Humphreys, “Has mindfulness become just another wing of capitalism?”, Unthinkable, July 11th) are timely, and he is right to draw attention to the need to recontextualise mindfulness “within a broader frame of collective responsibility”.

However, it would be a pity if his somewhat superficial assessment of the mindfulness programme he partook in as simply calming and relaxing were to deflect attention away from the overwhelming research on mindfulness in a mental-health context, which shows that for those who have experienced three episodes of depression or more, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) can reduce the risk of depressive relapse by 43 per cent. In addition, MBCT seems to be having the greatest benefit for those whose depression originates in childhood adversity. This is a cohort (of which I am one) who 20 years ago would have had the worst long-term mental health outcomes.

As someone who statistically shouldn’t be as well as I am today, I have reason to be grateful to Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mark Williams, John Teasdale and Zindel Segal, who developed mindfulness as a programme to target vulnerability to depressive relapse.

It would be regrettable if Prof Purser’s criticisms of McMindfulness, albeit justified, were to take from that work. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 6.