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PSYC*3690 Article 22.pdf

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University of Guelph
PSYC 3690
Benjamin Gottlieb

Article #: 22 Title: Sharing Oneʼs Story: On the Benefits of Writing or Talking About Emotional Experience - one approach to positive psychology is to document the psychological factors that promote physical and mental health - our interest in coping with emotional upheavals is rooted in peopleʼs apparent need to talk with others after a distressing event - it has long been argued that self-disclosure of upsetting experiences serves as a basic human motive - some experiences are difficult to share - this chapter will explore how and why constructing stories about important personal events is so beneficial - 3 recurring and overlapping processes are explored: those associated with emotional inhibition, cognitive processes, and linguistic processes that occur within the rubric of social dynamics - not talking about important emotional events engages powerful, negative change sin each of these processes - by constructing stories through writing or talking, these dynamics can be reversed The Writing Paradigm: An Overview - hypothesis that giving people the opportunity to disinhibit or disclose their emotions would improve health - profound result of writing studies was peopleʼs seemingly intuitive drive to disclose - find it valuable and meaningful - surprising was the painful array of tragic and depressing stories these upper-middle- class college students wrote - rape, family violence, suicide attempts, drug problems - participants in the long-term had significantly reduced number of doctor visits - thorough investigation of the mediators, moderators and parameters History - writing about emotional topics has been found to change biological processes, overt behaviours, and self-reports The Role of Inhibition - not talking about important psychological events (contravening thoughts, feelings and behaviours linked to emotional upheaval) is a form of inhibition - this active inhibition is a form of physiological work, reflected in autonomic and central nervous system activity - inhibition acts as a general stressor that can cause or exacerbate psychosomatic processes and thereby lead to long-term health problems - reducing inhibition is a strategy to improve health - inhibition in Freudʼs world was ultimately linked to the deeper constructs of suppression and repression - the foundation of his theory was the emotions associated with extreme stress must be deliberately and consciously “worked through” - there are 2 integral dimensions of disclosure beyond emotional disinhibition: cognitive and social The Role of Cognitive Processes - when individuals experience trauma, they temporarily become disconnected from their core self or identity - this disconnection is exacerbated by the inhibition of the thoughts and feelings surrounding this emotional upheaval - inherent need to integrate many facets of a single event into a more coherent whole - we naturally search for meaning and the completion of event, this gives us a sense of control and predictability over our lives - individuals tend to ruminate, talk and dream about things that are not resolved in their minds or tasks not completed - the more one tries to suppress thoughts, the more frequently they intrusively return to mind - in the face of major upheaval or overwhelming trauma (which disrupts life goals or tasks), we are driven to find meaning in a situation that might not lend i
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