The investigators aim to explore the psychobiological effects of a 5-day meditation
intervention on offenders within dangerous and severe personality disorders (DSPD) unit at
HMP Whitemoor. DSPD unit accommodates offenders with psychopathy or with two or more
personality disorders. DPSD unit provides them with a 5-year rehabilitation programme that
consists of group and individual therapy and aims to improve their self-regulation.
This project includes a total of 60 participants and has two major methodological
innovations. First, it will include yoga as an active control group that will be matched to
the meditation intervention (which means it will have the same length and the same social
components) and a passive control group that will be following their usual regimen. Thus, the
effects of meditation will be contrasted with another type of intervention and with not
receiving any intervention.
The second methodological innovation is the combination of psychological and biological
measures. Psychological measures include questionnaires (emotion regulation, mindfulness,
stress) and cognitive measures (attention,empathy,behavioural control). Biological measures
include EEG to measure brain activity related to empathy; gene expression and protein
interlukin-6 to measure changes in immune system; and stress related hormone cortisol. The
investigators also aim to determine to whom does meditation benefit the most by exploring how
initial expectations of meditation, personality, mood and previous life adversity predict
outcomes of meditation or yoga. The data will be collected at three time points: at baseline,
immediately after and 10 weeks after the 5-day intervention.
The investigators expect that meditation and yoga will similarly improve mental and physical
health. If this hypothesis are confirmed, these results will extend previous findings on the
benefits of meditation and yoga to vulnerable populations, and would provide a cost-effective
addition to prisoner rehabilitation.