Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Expressive Writing and Health
Carla J. Groom & James W. Pennebaker
For centuries people have written poems, novels, and journal entries as a way to help them cope with disturbing personal events. Psychologists, on the other hand, have traditionally followed Freud's lead and favored a “talking cure.” The idea that a “writing cure” may be at least as powerful was left unexplored until the mid-1980s, when researchers discovered that asking people to write about traumatic experiences improved their mental and physical health. A TYPICAL EXPRESSIVE WRITING EXERCISE Most written disclosure studies have used the same basic procedure. Researchers arrange for people to come into the research lab on each of about 4 or 5 days. On the first day, the experimenter divides people randomly into two groups. Everyone is asked to write for 20 minutes each day, but the topic depends on which group they are in. Those in the expressive writing group are told something like this: I would like ...