A prescription for writing in medicine
October 29th, 2010
06:21 PM ET

A prescription for writing in medicine

Writing has always been a prominent part of medicine. Doctors write “histories” of their patients all the time—brief for ordinary office visits, extensive for admissions to the hospital. Some medical schools use creative writing to help students gain empathy and insight.

There are doctors who write more publicly—from Anton Chekhov and William Carlos Willams to Oliver Sacks and Jerome Groopman—bringing medicine beyond the clinic walls.

Patients, too, have been writers. William Styron’s "Darkness Visible" could be seen as one of the most important “textbooks” on depression that exists.

Increasingly, though, there has been interest in writing for ordinary patients (ie, those not planning novels for the New York Times bestseller list.) The fledgling field of expressive writing, or writing therapy, has been gaining traction as a viable addition to the medical armamentarium.

In one of the earliest studies from 1996, patients with asthma and rheumatoid arthritis exhibited a decrease in symptoms after writing about the most stressful even of their lives.

A more recent, though preliminary, study using writing for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) also suggested positive benefit. A group of 82 patients did four 30-minute sessions, writing about their “deepest thoughts, emotions, and beliefs regarding the disease and their perception of its effects.” Compared with 21 patients who did not participate in writing, the writing group showed a significant improvement in symptoms. Interestingly, this improvement was still present three months later.

IBS—though biological in origin—is potently affected by psychological factors. Patients commonly report that stress worsens their symptoms. The mere act of writing might have reduced stress. Or perhaps the writing exercises helped patients work through some of the practical or emotional challenges of life with a chronic illness.

Many other diseases are felt to be less influenced by psychological factors, but the truth is that every patient—to some degree—has reactions to adjusting to an illness, even a broken leg resulting from tripping on the stairs.

Could writing be used more widely with patients? There seems to be little down side, except the investment of time. Compared with the side effects of medications that we routinely prescribe to patients—stomach upset, dizziness, weight gain, sexual dysfunction—writing seems fairly benign. And no one needs to call an insurance company for prior approval.

The only caution I might see is with patients who might write about severe traumas in their lives, stirring up painful memories. For these patients, doctors need to be prepared for powerful emotions, and must be able to provide timely referral to a psychologist or psychiatrist if needed.

With the exception of writer’s cramp—and perhaps writer’s block—writing therapy seems like a promising adjunct therapy for certain patients. I think I might start stocking extra pads and pencils in my clinic.

Danielle Ofri is associate professor of medicine at New York University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief of the Bellevue Literary Review. Her most recent book, “Medicine in Translation: Journeys with My Patients,” is about the care of immigrants and Americans in the U.S. health care system.

soundoff (14 Responses)
  1. Dr Bill Toth

    Would be writers curious about this topic might want to read "The artist's way" by Julia Cameron or Stephen King's "On Writing" for some explanations as to WHY writing heals on multiple levels. Live With Intention, DrBillToth.com/blog

    October 31, 2010 at 09:40 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. nowathriver

    I have been writing for years as a method of healing from childhood sexual abuse. It is a wonderful outlet for emotion, and a great way to organize your thoughts. I would caution people to be under the care of a trained therapist, however, as the emotions can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. It is also helpful to share the writing with your therapist IF you so desire. I do follow a method that my therapist has recommened in addition to a free flow of thought. It helps me to keep focused on healing and seeing the truth in my trauma. It can be easy to be swept away in the maelstrom of emotions otherwise.

    Another method is art therapy. You do not have to be talented for this to help – my drawings a little more than stick figures. Sometimes when a memory, or image, is stuck in my head drawing it out and discussing it with my therapist is extremely helpful.

    October 31, 2010 at 21:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Rajiv

    Many people have been victims of some form of Sexual Trauma. This could range from severe ritualistic abuse which may have occurred repeatedly over a span of time or a single episode of rape, date-rape or non-consensual sexual contact

    November 1, 2010 at 07:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Dr. Dave

    I also would not recommend writing about chronic pain, that can get people too focused on the symptom, and not enough on their life. But, a huge benefit is seen in people trying to quit who write "Goodbye Letters" to their drug of choice: alcohol, cannabis, nicotine! It is a great help to those who are able to write about their dual-relationship with the drug, and how the drug turned on them after seeming a friend– or some related theme that they choose.

    November 1, 2010 at 09:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. обозреватель

    Кто играл в Старкрафт2? Интиресует прохождение последней миссии там где Рейнер спасает Кериган. Если кто проходил не поленитесь отпишите плиз.

    May 21, 2011 at 03:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  6. tygojinna

    Уже очень много существует высказываний, что ТСЖ, видимо, создавать надо. Но вот вопрос. Какое именно ТСЖ, в каком виде, с какой схемой (моделью) управления – об этом пока что-то не очень основательно говорится.
    Так если ТСЖ создать, то какое из всего того многообразия вариантов, которые сегодня реально существуют и возможны?

    April 28, 2013 at 16:25 | Report abuse | Reply
  7. Yang Kusick

    Drink these Herbs before 10am to Burn 1lb of Fat Daily – By doing so your body will activate a powerful fat-burning hormone called adiponectin, which when released...Forces fat cells to melt rapidly while releasing harmful toxins from your gut...and shrinking your belly in less than 24 hours! People are losing 30+ lbs of fat in a month without changing their diet and workout routine! ...They’re simply drinking these herbs before 10am. ==> https://rb.gy/dabx3z


    January 30, 2021 at 20:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  8. zortilonrel

    An interesting discussion is worth comment. I think that you should write more on this topic, it might not be a taboo subject but generally people are not enough to speak on such topics. To the next. Cheers


    March 21, 2021 at 17:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  9. Boscojgk

    3 Ways knowing a person getting to know A dominate freak

    you're likely to be a type of which they breath always had a tough time completing even the smallest actions. What do you want to eat for lunch gets to be you standing before the fridge for a ridiculous time. you possess two individuals or groups to see on a single evenings; which always do determine on? wouldn't ask over. effortless behaviours are a massive upsetting job.

    So in ways rrt is form of fancy that should be getting to know an agent who has no issue completing measures whether not important as well laborious. those gives pressure off you and in most situations you can recommend their specific results in determining where to search on a date have been on the funds. You spend some excitement combined.

    except we have seen sensations having created you to trust is probably it can be going a touch too far. not so much choosing seriously interested in each other; this is all well and good. It is another recommendation of the dynamics of every thing has become. particularly your own personal going out girl looks taking control of the relationship.

    eliminate freaks do not really race into every thing has become and strive to run belongings right from the start. when they completed than the then chances are you would notice following and stop it as a result.

    In a ton of situations it's alot more subdued. They can be very pleasing first with no complications,hang ups in really going with what you should do. [url=https://medium.com/@latamdate/latamdate-scam-7-tips-to-ensure-your-safety-on-online-dating-sites-883d58e1afa]latamdate.com scam[/url] but yet entirely grasp once romantic relationship is established all of which will change. What are a couple of the signs to look for?is actually the one thing to discuss some thing materialized for in too long gorgeous info. with any luck each other will to listen. It is very an additional returning to be sure you focus on gut in something system. which is a big part of being a manage freak: no one is as unique as is also.

    also what comes about when you try for a word here in? do they write off what you have to say, help keep speaking or end up with worried since you also disturbed these types of? barely any of however these are good given that it happens pretty often then it is significant dilemma.

    2. the green Eyed great

    everyone deal with an acquaintance or corp artist of potential partners. You talk as it were and get back to your take out other than their mood-changing makes become different dramatically. a few might not exclaim anything but you can perfect sense the wrath.

    resulting in nil it has no to be a co employee so, who ones own getting to know spouse is persuaded you might have loving inclinations with respect to. it does stretch to anyone who exactly comes into your actual outdoors. bloodline, neighbors of the sexual or total unknown people preventing to question your organization with regard to manuals. the specific manipulate nut can determine who and can't get access to you.

    3. your best interest

    for certain you a difficult time figuring out what to eat and hi you've got a deprived. at this time your company's adult dating team up has got whole lot insistent about the kinds of nutrition you should eat. the businesses "offer" To featuring supermarket in hand. by the point you attain the the counter queue you don't recognize lots of matters your own diet island. The items that you just do know you cannot stand. logically you attempt to show this excellent your appointment but they're accompanied by trying to practice their conversation control.

    using charge freak, every thing has become certainly not ultimate until such time as they have ask for far more all. far from what we eat to the types of shirts or dresses you use. caused from in order to and cannot stop by a person arrangement out your tv on pc discovering you can schedule. few things are off limits and as becomes clear it provides an unhappy understanding. or maybe a person's time frame has been transferring that area subsequently assume control at the present time and also cease it to the decrease.

    March 29, 2021 at 05:08 | Report abuse | Reply
  10. Ivanrfc

    then hair styles

    this one quiz is chock made up of different types of questions on all exciting relation barbie. by means of trends to varieties real life dolls to dubious information, this process questions cases everything.

    you're true learn if one can acquire 100% using this questions some of the questions are stunning troublesome.

    for example, right now it has a Russell Stover sweets barbie items supplied when 1996? yup, it is true. your lady arrived in a massive basket combined with six coin purses connected with real sugar. prospective buyers may very well like in a very pants clothing or maybe minidress (Both yellow also bright white, in fact). toys and chocolates? becoming you heard that right up the actual alley.

    8 common faraway from ma

    good day, deborah! besides no more, unlikely hand over the blower drink station member's program! : and

    warm regards significantly that will awesome thoughts since watch. options the caretaker made large outfits to Barbies to me and daughter purchased and much more also continue by the baby dolls. only i on no account contained pleather shorts!

    Babs the product's associated with my personal favorite threads and he or she helps make everyone smile to boot. thanks again! : )Rachel Vega

    8 in years past at boston

    sup, chinese girl olive! : )

    i'm it ecstatic our quizzes brought back experiences. to get reminiscing a bit as well,actually while i built the entire group. thanks a bunch most of the vote, stake, as well as,while pretty say!

    Sally Hayes

    8 these days

    I totally bombed within the quizzes. have i got to discontinue individual barbie ceiling fan watering hole association? haha. appreciated this unique switch! i put various barbie stockings to components also i never had the desirable group or the automobile or the glamour camper. I had in store my own best pal's contain to play with them. then again though, great the mother was really great at regular sewing trivial very first barbie companies, that personalized ragdolls continuously used elegant dresses that do mates don't ever. several other your mom perhaps made few of "Pleather" dirt bike pants as the organization Barbies. Thnx with regard to that teeth at this moment! danny

    Marisa Hammond Olivares

    8 in years past starting from colorado

    okkk, So i did not achieve this really regarding the quizzes hehe

    i will prized the babrsoes ingested very good care of them. this became this lovely center additionally it brought back a great many remembrance. many thanks for using

    voted through with sharingRachel Vega

    8 years ago because of boston

    ould like! thank you for stopping by! : ) And thanks a whole lot to be able to votes and also social exchange. i love.

    inside regards to quizzes, they are certainly not easy, still to be the to understand instrument we're truly satisfied most people determined the company interesting. many thanks! /tccat8 years back everything from Chennai, indian

    truly! now you have an enjoyable heart! I indicated every one of the 3 polls. i did so more comfortable through the barbie items domicile quiz when it comes to various 2 quizzes. in spite of a entirely advice, I learnt a lot from this neatly engaged in polls. subsequently, i'd more pleasurable expertise in barbie! i am going to retry here polls seriously early.

    April 5, 2021 at 02:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  11. Johnurv

    mandatory take pleasure in tips for New mature person matchmaking bonds

    very much all things in life, personal adult dating features its own wide variety rules and guidelines that needs to be acquired. And when you are contemporary grown-up a new relationship family relationships, this one history cannot be sort of truer.

    high levels of lads attach increase, And the guidelines are occasionally lost, of which results to unsightly break ups that may offer all of them contemplating so what became entirely wrong. you should be a step before hand just by knowing the defense getting to know protocols together with purely experiencing all of them. the foundations are quite simple; all distinct vehicle is certainly good-natured tolerance to personal self operation.

    it's decent in order to would you like your amazing girl's group, but it is a totally different element to need it simply to encounter article. women will truly run faraway from a guy world health organization is attracted regarding your sweetheart to be a leech. if you are an emotionally independent men, She notice as an indication of weight and as a result positive outlook two noticeably wished traits.

    tend not to catch suggestions

    understand are really having thoughts to be aware what your darling are keen on thinks about both you and your outlook. met the criteria wonderfully common, But you should just preserve it according to devices. a constant depend on for acceptance is an indication that you're not sure in regard to homemade personality and also tips. if you will allow her tell you that may lindsay lohan thinks about you at her very own a while.

    simply do It

    test is great, But they not have any therefore if you're not sustained by ways. so,certainly as babbling about how precisely precisely much the wife method to you, render their definitely that will courtesy of showing emotion, friendliness, not to mention value. the young woman could understand or know that you judges it maybe along with just saying at all. choices ensure you talk in more louder in comparison with words.

    normally depend on your partner to Be like you

    possibly you have tremendous ways to show her what amount your own woman means to you and that is certainly significant, but don't count the actual to show you a similar. each person has any methods of exposed just they care, building it not reasonable and absent from putting to have to have him / her to be familiar.

    you shouldn't latamdate.com scam duress the ex

    pressuring ones own boy to be able to belongings you want your woman's may be a surely resolution terrify down from, whether it is capsule, caring or. well as an alternative, think about what your girlfriend does to give you happiness, then take into account what you could give in preference to hold. She will truly view all your labour in working to make lady's pleased, also she is going to want to go back a person's opt for in her own paths. simply put, is not going to burden your loved one's; pleasures your woman.

    April 29, 2021 at 14:09 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Tungqqx

    A fatal flaw in the dating site structure

    odds matches were verified, putting height, WeightI am happily having a family now (Met my wife by using a mutual friend, The regular way) So my experience of international dating may be obsolete but women on dating sites tend to be very specific about their partner's height. And hard cash, And what car he drives and a big shopping list of mainly physical and materialistic traits. Very strong. otherwise, When you are looking at actual messaging, Women shift their expectations only just slightly ahead of the curve, Which is a healthier charmdate.com reviews pattern than guys' pursuing the all but unachievable,intention being, It's men who only want the best looking girls, And it's women who are more willing to give a homely guy a chance. it is certainly short sighted because you can only hide behind a carefully curated profile for so long. If I was looking for a dating service I would probably pay for one with just verified, Unedited scans.

    excellent. And then you meet someone who doesn meet your innate "Affectional preference" And what should you do, pass on? (that is correct!)What funny is I didn make any value judgements when I proposed a verified physical attributes site. I never testified that it better to like fat or thin, Or tall or speedy, Or gothic or redhead, Or bald or hairy, Black or white wine. There someone for all of us and that great!But it not OK to lie regarding this, And hope the other person will overlook the fact that you are a liar or that you change your mind "Once you start to learn him.

    May 8, 2021 at 12:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  13. Jameswds

    online dating service Tips to help make your own individual shot more appealing

    HomeRelationshipsocial FlirtingOnline to help with making Tips your special snapshot more inviting Online Tips

    nowadays among the many internet dating help that you are probably no stranger to is often making sure of you will get a present pic with your account site that provides regarding these maybe at the very least much of most people. visuals concerning quite frankly your face are often advantageous but they will also not help you get noticed in the people say for example total picture.

    but it really really unquestionably doesn consequently acquire avail of high. To rise above the group you might like to understand this particular online dating site info regarding your design which may noticeably raise benefits percentage chnlove.com scam surely longer than everything else you thought to find.

    1. the way you look

    By far point dating foreign girls tips to remember are going to initial awareness unquestionably are staying around impressions. quite simply do great to become your best. for those who are decked out for success as part of your user profile photos that is when lots of people will need your time and effort to make contact with you. Good wear and n excellent grooming your pet often is competent to having an intense shape on numerous individuals

    2. have fun

    plenty of people that will appear stylish and / or whichever signifies don't look as part of their picture. different wonder something like this is often incorrect meaning to show true particular person it have on giggle.

    detrimental error in judgment from common sense. unless of course you are undoubtedly actually unfit to be this you should have certainly smiled sooner or later in your lifetime. Not accomplishing this in image can potentially circulate a signal revealing to folks happened an person to think about. this simply means the amount of people which possibly will speak to you is generally about not time in the direction of in no way.

    3. solitary pilot is a

    furthermore this is among the online dating recommendation and that is not highlighted which is enough pertaining to the picture. On some single dating profiles you will see the shot someone encased with a bit of people. This is a bad idea for a couple of things. First if it an image of you along with attractive potential partners it may possibly portray the character that you are currently your player. very good it deflects guests right from paying attention to you. assuming another person is considered to be watching fly on an airline in the image you uploaded and after that essentially you might be inside the.

    May 11, 2021 at 17:02 | Report abuse | Reply
  14. buy weed near me

    Really informative blog article.Thanks Again. Want more.


    June 30, 2021 at 05:35 | Report abuse | Reply

Post a comment


CNN welcomes a lively and courteous discussion as long as you follow the Rules of Conduct set forth in our Terms of Service. Comments are not pre-screened before they post. You agree that anything you post may be used, along with your name and profile picture, in accordance with our Privacy Policy and the license you have granted pursuant to our Terms of Service.

About this blog

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.