First Advisor

Leigh Miller

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Psychology and University Honors






Secondary traumatic stress -- Prevention, Meditation -- Buddhism, Compassion, Burn out (Psychology) -- Prevention




The purpose of this thesis is to present Buddhist meditation practices and modes of investigation that can mitigate compassion fatigue, some of which have not yet been acknowledged in this research field. Conducting a literature review, I found multiple frameworks for compassion fatigue that have different and sometimes contradictory causes, and a lack of clear differentiation between sympathy, empathy and compassion. Both of these aspects are explored. I explain the Buddhist approach to compassion, and the cause of fatigue from a Yogachara philosophical perspective. Then, I write about a bodhisattva’s training in no-self, the five-aggregate model of mind, Chenrezig practice, and tonglen. Some researchers propose compassion fatigue is caused because engagement in compassion drains internal resources, others write that incomplete engagement of compassion is in actuality the reason behind it, while some look at numerous other motives outside this primary split. The problem in this field of research is a lack of consensus regarding the causes for compassion fatigue, a multitude of other terms (vicarious traumatization, secondary traumatic stress disorder, burnout) that seem point to the same experience, and a lack of clear differentiation between compassion, empathy and sympathy. The Buddhist explanation for compassion fatigue takes into account all the seemingly contradictory stances, and several Buddhist practices are briefly explained and proposed as mitigators. It is hoped this study provides further awareness of the problematic nature of the term "compassion fatigue", and generates interest for further research into Buddhist practices of meditation, visualisation and investigation that have not yet been explored for their capacity for mitigation of compassion fatigue.


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