Friday, January 21, 2005

Blogs as Brain Dumps

In a previous post, Musings on Blog Musings (January 2), I wrote about bloggers who bare everything in their blogs. I said that I can't do that, that I have other places to share my innermost thoughts and feelings, and that here I keep it close to the chest. I don't feel comfortable sharing everything in such a public place. I keep a journal for my therapist, but I don't even share that with my family, let alone in my blog.

One woman left a comment on my blog. She said, "I think it's because we *don't* know the people who read our blogs that it is so easy to tell secrets. My hypothetical journal for my therapist would be much easier to share with the blogworld than with my family."

I think her comment is very astute. It got me thinking about blogs as "anonymous," despite the fact that names and pictures are often on them. My feelings about blogs were reinforced after I read an article called "Therapeutic Writing," by psychiatrist Michael Messer. He advocates a kind of writing that can act as a sort of "brain dump" where thoughts and feelings can be expressed and released. He discusses evidence that shows that therapeutic writing can have significant health benefits for quite a long time, and that illnesses such as asthma and arthritis have been shown to improve if therapeutic writing is used.

How do you do therapeutic writing? Dr. Messer says:

The directions for therapeutic writing are quite simple: Write for 20 minutes each day your deepest thoughts and feelings. Those are all the directions that you need. An additional direction I would like to add is that once you have completed your writing, this is not to be kept for posterity, and that each day the paper should be thrown away. Throwing away the paper ensures that you are completely honest with the expression and that you are not writing for any other audience than yourself.

Note that therapeutic writing is not a listing of activities that go on from day to day. Apparently there are no health benefits in that!

The one difference between Dr. Messer's instructions for therapeutic writing and blogging is that the paper should be thrown away (or deleted, in the case of writing on a computer). But if the blogger is writing for what she perceives as an anonymous audience, if what she writes in her blog allows her to tell secrets that she could not share even with her family, blogging is in one sense very similar to therapeutic writing. And the entry very quickly scrolls off the page into the archives.

What I am saying is that I think blogging can be a kind of "brain dump." If that is the case, people who bare all in their blogs may reap potiential health benefits and are providing themselves with, as Dr. Messer writes, "ongoing maintenance for the unconscious mind."

1 comment:

Angel said...

I know that I dont always "open up" in my blogs and but then there are days I just need to get something off my chest. I dont put things that I wouldnt tell others, so I guess it's just up to the person who is writing them.

:D angel