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Writing and Health Benefits

I would like to see what writing does to people on a psychological, emotional, and mental level. I know of a study that suggests writing about an issue we are facing in life helps us heal, but I’m wondering about writing in the realm of fiction and creative nonfiction, rather than just journaling about the issues in life. I’m also wondering if other studies exist on this subject and encourage any takers to go deeper than the surface for this topic.

  • When I write, I frequently go into my character's mind, to the point I feel like I'm in another mindset completely. This helps to understand multiple points of views and how may different types of characters might think. – SpectreWriter 5 years ago
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  • Therapeutic writing as non fiction vs fiction would be a fascinating study! I find journaling helps one work through pent up emotions but fiction can help express abstract feelings. Maybe a little section could address the difference in benefits between therapeutic writing and therapeutic art, it would be very interesting to see how effective those two modes of expression are at helping someone cope. – Slaidey 5 years ago
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  • One of the reasons I describe myself as a writer is that I've found that if I'm not writing regularly, I'm not as mentally healthy; I seem to need the outlet. The effect is very specifically fiction-centric -- academic and non-fiction writing doesn't provide the same release. I would love to read some psychologically-based research on why that's true. – Monique 5 years ago
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  • Writing can really help people deal with trauma because it allows one to communicate inner thoughts and self-reflections free of judgement. I think this would be a really cool idea and that you should pursue it. I love the idea of writing in the realm of creative nonfiction and, in a way, conducting your own case study about the psychological, emotional, and mental affects writing has on people. – Morgan Muller 5 years ago
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  • There are studies that I've seen that expressive writing helps with depression, anxiety, mood stimulation. If you look things up online you can see the studies created for that. Just taking 15 to 30 minutes out of each day is even enough to change a person's mood. I think it's important to get into your character's mindset and I think it can really change a person's mood good or bad as the situation is written out but you feel satisfaction in the end and the outcome. I believe if a person is feeling a specific way or dealing with something, writing it out and fictionalizing it can give them a way to cope and look over it and see one of the many possible outcomes written before them to put their mind to ease just a little bit.But as Slaidey said, it would be fantastic to see just how the difference is between non-fiction and fiction writing and the mood changes of the writers afterwards! – shelbysf 5 years ago
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  • I looked into this a bit during my degree and some studies I can suggest are...Mcardle, S. and Byrt, R. (2001) ‘Fiction, poetry and mental health: expressive and therapeutic uses of literature’, Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing 8: 517–524.Sexton, J.D. and Pennebaker, J.W. (2009) ‘The healing powers of expressive writing’, in S.B. Kaufman and J.C. Kaufman (eds.) The psychology of creative writing, pp. 264-274. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.If you look up therapeutic writing / therapeutic reading / narrative therapy some more relevant studies may come up (especially if the ones listed above are difficult to access, apologies if they are!)For more general stuff about narrative and therapy/psychology:Riessman, C. and Quinney, L. (2005) ‘Narrative in social work: a critical review’, Qualitative Social Work, 4 (4): 391-412.Kleinman, A. (1998) The illness narratives: suffering, healing, and the human condition. United States: Basic Books.Harre, R. (1997) ‘An outline of the main methods for social psychology’, in N. Hayes (ed.) Doing qualitative analysis in psychology, pp. 17-37. Hove: Psychology Press.Hayes, N. (1997) ‘Introduction to Part I’, in N. Hayes (ed.) Doing qualitative analysis in psychology, pp. 11-16. Hove: Psychology Press.Emerson, P. and Frosh, S. (2004) Critical Narrative Analysis in Psychology: A Guide to Practice, revised edition. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan.Hope this helps! :) – Camille Brouard 5 years ago
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  • When I write, even if it's not about my life, I find it very therapeutic. – kendalld 5 years ago
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  • As Kendal said, writing for me is also very therapeutic and also a creative release. – Munjeera 5 years ago
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  • What interests me above all of this, is what writing does to memory and ultimately who we are / become. (i.e. how important is writing in the formation of self?), which also plays into our mental--and maybe even physical--health. – AKulik 5 years ago
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  • I think it would also be interesting if the article explores why so many great writers struggled with mental health issues. Not that there is necessarily a connection, but the contrast has always been a bit for me: writing being therapeutic and writers struggling with life. This article from The Guardian might shed some light on the subject: http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/dec/13/writers-depression-top-10-risk – faezew 5 years ago
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