Sunday, June 01, 2008

BLOGS: Blogging for sickos …

Guess what. Blogging is good for you.

Actually, not blogging as such. Scientific America reports in its May 2008 issue that “expressive writing” or “writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings” can be more than just therapeutic.

Apparently blogging of this kind can help people with a range of conditions, from HIV to cancer to sleep disorders. That’s presuming, of course, that you don’t blog at odd hours.

However, scientists haven’t yet seen exactly how this works. All they know is that it works.

Scientists’ understanding about the neurobiology underlying therapeutic writing must remain speculative for now. Attempts to image the brain before and after writing have yielded minimal information because the active regions are located so deep inside. Recent functional magnetic resonance imaging studies have shown that the brain lights up differently before, during and after writing, notes James Pennebaker, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin. But Pennebaker and others remain skeptical about the value of such images because they are hard to duplicate and quantify.

Most likely, writing activates a cluster of neurological pathways, and several researchers are committed to uncovering them. At the University of Arizona, psychologist and neuroscientist Richard Lane hopes to make brain-imaging techniques more relevant by using those techniques to study the neuroanatomy of emotions and their expressions. Nancy Morgan, lead author of the Oncologist study, is looking to conduct larger community-based and clinical trials of expressive writing. And Pennebaker is continuing to investigate the link between expressive writing and biological changes, such as improved sleep, that are integral to health. “I think the sleep angle is one of the more promising ones,” he says.

The health benefits of blogging have become so widely recognised that ...

Some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians begin to recognize the therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.”

So hanging out with sick people can make you feel better. Maybe that’s why so many sick people hang around this blog.

Surely this shit can't be good for you!

(Thanks to SJH)

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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