Blogging–It’s Good for You

by thoughtfulconservative

I get my Scientific American today and whaddya know, blogging is good for me.

Self-medication may be the reason the blogosphere has taken off. Scientists (and writers) have long known about the therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences, thoughts and feelings. But besides serving as a stress-coping mechanism, expressive writing produces many physiological benefits. Research shows that it improves memory and sleep, boosts immune cell activity and reduces viral load in AIDS patients, and even speeds healing after surgery. A study in the February issue of the Oncologist reports that cancer patients who engaged in expressive writing just before treatment felt markedly better, mentally and physically, as compared with patients who did not.

And I get fewer visits from the police. And less stuff gets broken around the house.

Alice Flaherty, a neuroscientist at Harvard University and Massachusetts General Hospital, the placebo theory of suffering is one window through which to view blogging. As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

“A placebo for getting satisfied?” Does that mean blogging is better than sex? I wouldn’t go that far.

Flaherty, who studies conditions such as hypergraphia (an uncontrollable urge to write) and writer’s block, also looks to disease models to explain the drive behind this mode of communication. For example, people with mania often talk too much. “We believe something in the brain’s limbic system is boosting their desire to communicate,” Flaherty explains.

As anyone who is acquainted with me knows, perhaps I write because I don’t talk alot.

Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes. Also, blogging might trigger dopamine release, similar to stimulants like music, running and looking at art.

So runners who blog, like Nick, are probably gonna live 200 years.

Now if it will help me lose those 50 pounds I need to drop.

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9 Responses to “Blogging–It’s Good for You”

  1. As someone who is acquainted with you I can vouch that your claim that you don’t talk alot is the understatement of the year!

  2. Blogging certainly makes me feel better. One of the only things I miss about working full-time is the opportunity to share what’s going on in my life on a daily basis with other people who may care. It’s no coincidence that I started my blog in the last few weeks I was working. I write sometimes not for the reader to read it, but for me to write it, if that makes any sense. Blogging is a form of group therapy.

  3. David, 🙂

    Huck, it’s the same for me. I would write even if no one else read it. It’s a bonus when someone reads it, and I feel really good when someone comments. And if I get linked to, I do one of those happy Snoopy dances.

  4. “self medication”… True that.

  5. Whoa – I totally did not even see this post before I read my copy of Scientific American and wrote on it… how funny!

  6. Just proves how great minds think alike, eh?

  7. Yes, I’m sure that is it!

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