Can writing help you heal?

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This is my weekly installment of “writing about writing,” in which I scan the world to find websites, books and articles to help writers. Today I discuss a study on “emotional writing” from the University of Auckland….

Is the act of expressing your emotions in words powerful enough to help you to heal? That was the question a group of New Zealand researchers recently examined at the University of Auckland.

A group of healthy senior citizens was assigned to write for 20 minutes a day, for a total of three days, about the most traumatic event they had ever experienced. They were encouraged to be open and candid and to share thoughts or emotions they had never before expressed to others. Another group — the control — was asked to write about their plans for the next day, while specifically avoiding mentioning their feelings, opinions or beliefs.

But here’s where the experiment became interesting: Both groups of participants then had to undergo a skin biopsy on their arms (the tissue was used for another study.) The researchers then photographed the arms multiple times until they were completely healed.

Eleven days after the biopsy, 76% of the group that had written about trauma had fully healed while only 42% of the other group had.

Make of this what you will. But if you’ve experienced trauma, you might want to consider writing about it.

(Thanks to Marcelle for bringing this story to my attention.)

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