How Writing Can Heal

Writing. A single word with a different definition for every single person. For me, writing has been one of the most helpful tools I have used throughout my life, during sad and happy times. It is a way of expressing what we are feeling whether it be physical or emotional. It is a way of communicating with another being or with ourselves. It can help make or destroy peace, love, hate, or war. But for me, I hold it near and dear to my heart, using it as an element for who I am, and who I am trying to become. However, I am not the only one that has this to say. Studies analyzed by psychologist James Pennebaker, Ph.D., at the University of Texas and by psychologist Joshua Smyth, Ph.D. at Syracuse University supports the claims that writing can make an immense change on someone who is battling a terminal illness. Patients with illnesses like HIV/AIDS, arthritis, and other diseases can become stress-free after using writing to express their emotional distress. As a result, the lack of stress improves their immune system, which helps them keep strong bodies and calm minds to continue with the battle.

(Image:                                                     “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” -Anton Chekhov


One of the most promising studies, supporting the claim that writing can help with diseases, was found in the Journal of the American Medical Association (Vol. 281, No. 14). This study held by Smyth managed about 107 patients affected by arthritis and asthma, which of whom would write for three days, twenty minutes every day. However, there was a difference between these patients because only 71 of them wrote about the most stressful moment they had ever lived. After a few months, 70 of the patients included in the “stressful writing group”, showed improvement in their new medical evaluations It was also seen that the patients that specifically wrote about the stress and expressed it in their writing, showed greater improvement, than the others. At the conclusion of this experiment, Symth said: “So writing helped patients get better, and also kept them from getting worse,”.

In the end, I learned how much writing, can help someone not only when they are affected by a disease, but affected by everyday life. It is important to try something new, because you never know if a pen, a piece of paper, and your own mind can help create a mindful moment, in the chaotic world we live in.


(All information acquired from: The American Psychological Association)


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