This past year I have been studying the science behind habit change and happiness, and I kept hearing about James Pennebaker and a concept called Post Traumatic Growth. It is the scientific finding that most people actually report their lives improving after a traumatic experience. The misconception about the likelihood of PTSD compared to PTG is for another post though.
All these scientists were referencing the same man, so I got curious and bought his books. This is how I stumbled into the world of expressive writing, and the weird science of how our secrets make us sick.
If you have had traumatic experiences in your early life, you tend to get sick easier and go to the doctor more. (Stockdale 2011; Brown et al. 2010; Dube et al. 2009; Fellitti 2009). If you keep this trauma a secret, you go to the doctor even more frequently.
And if you expressively write about the traumatic secret, to yourself only, you go to the doctor half as often the following year.
By spending 20 minutes each evening, for four days, just writing to yourself, you improve your health for the following year? Pennebaker’s first study in 1986 found this to be the case, and it has sparked over 300 expressive writing studies in the following 3 decades.
SInce then, researchers have found Expressive Writing can increase immune function, academic performance, pain tolerance, and improve sleep.
Here we have a strongly studied scientific phenomenon that almost no one I know of knows about. Pennebaker’s books are a little dated and not popular. So, I’ve gathered his findings and wrote a free ebook.
My chosen life purpose is to help people heal themselves and this technique just seems too damn aligned with that to ignore.
This is the first edition and I hope to refine it over the course of my life.
To do that, I’m going to need your help. If you download the ebook, I am going to send follow-up surveys to see what is working, what isn’t, and I will use your feedback to hone this tool.
(If you don’t want to be bothered, and just want the ebook, cool. Just download the ebook and unsubscribe.)