Shame, fear of compassion, self-criticism, and self-reassurance mediate the effect of early life events on emotional disorders among male prisoners: A structural equation modeling analysis

Acta Psychol (Amst). 2024 Feb:242:104116. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2023.104116. Epub 2023 Dec 18.


Background: Early negative experiences in childhood are potent predictors of criminal behavior in youth and adulthood. This study aimed to identify the mediation effects of Shame, Fear of Compassion, Self-criticism, and Self-reassurance on the effect of Early Life Events on Emotional Disorders.

Method: This cross-sectional study was conducted among 368 male prisoners (Mean age: 33.26 ± 8.41 years) with convenient sampling method, from Ilam, Iran. A set of self-reported instruments were used for data collection. The ultimate model was constructed using structural equation modeling after confirming the construct validity of the measures via confirmatory factor analysis.

Results: Shame, fear of compassion, self-criticism, and self-reassurance significantly mediated the relationship between Early Life Events and emotional disorders. The mediating effect accounted for 77 % of the total effect in the mediating model. According to Pearson's correlation, a positive and significant relationship existed between early life events and self-criticism, shame, fear of compassion and emotional disorders (P < .001). In conclusion, the presented model has an appropriate and acceptable fit, as evidenced by the results of the chi-square test (χ2 = 48.067, p < .001) and other relevant fit indices. However, self-reassurance's mediating role was insignificant (P > .05).

Conclusions: The present results showed that shame, fear of compassion, and self-criticism are important mediators in the relationship between early life events and emotional disorders among male prisoners. So, it is necessary to develop related protocols to increase the mental health of prisoners.

Keywords: Adverse childhood experiences; Compassion; Prisoners; Shame.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Empathy*
  • Fear / psychology
  • Humans
  • Latent Class Analysis
  • Male
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Shame
  • Young Adult