Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative

James W. Pennebaker, Janel D. Sexton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way for as little as 15 minutes over the course of three days brings about improvements in mental and physical health. This finding has been replicated across age, gender, culture, social class, and personality type. Using a text-analysis computer program, it was discovered that those who benefit maximally from writing tend to use a high number of positive-emotion words, a moderate amount of negative-emotion words, and increase their use of cognitive words over the days of writing. These findings suggest that the formation of a narrative is critical and is an indicator of good mental and physical health. Ongoing studies suggest that writing serves the function of organizing complex emotional experiences. Implications for these findings for psychotherapy are briefly discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1254
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Psychology
Volume55
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1999
Externally publishedYes

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Insurance Benefits
Mental Health
Emotions
Social Class
Psychotherapy
Personality
Software
Emotion
Health
Physical Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Clinical Psychology

Cite this

Forming a story : The health benefits of narrative. / Pennebaker, James W.; Sexton, Janel D.

In: Journal of Clinical Psychology, Vol. 55, No. 10, 10.1999, p. 1243-1254.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pennebaker, James W. ; Sexton, Janel D. / Forming a story : The health benefits of narrative. In: Journal of Clinical Psychology. 1999 ; Vol. 55, No. 10. pp. 1243-1254.
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