Paper short abstract:
Taking Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy in the UK as its ethnographic focus, this paper argues that MBCT participants characterise metacognitive ability as constitutive of human flourishing and seek to develop a markedly committed relationship with their own objectified minds.
Paper long abstract:
Maintaining mental health is increasingly being framed as a form of ethical work for British citizens and cultivating healthy mental habits is increasingly spoken about as a central component of living well. Focusing on Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT), I consider the processes by which participants learn to attend to their minds. MBCT is a group based intervention mandated on the National Health Service (NHS) for people who have experienced three or more depressive episodes but who are currently well. This paper describes the learning process by which MBCT participants come to engage with thoughts, emotions and bodily experience. I argue that this learning is cognitive, metacognitive and attitudinal. Participants acquire a new way of thinking about thinking, depression and the 'self'. They practice the metacognitive skill of decentering from thinking patterns, and seek to cultivate an attitudinal disposition of 'friendly curiosity'.
Cultures of metacognition