Sunday, October 19, 2008

Those Active Therapeutic Agents

The research is likely to be weak and suspect. A sample of six hundred bloggers out of twelve to sixty million, basically tell us that blogging is therapeutic.

In all honesty, the concept is not that far off the mark. There is likely to be a great deal of truth to the idea; that purging thoughts, issues, events, annecdotes and stories, the whole gestalt of writing and publishing, people hearing us, feels good. Not just in the short run, either. Make it a habit, and who knows?

On the other hand, Hemingway killed himself.

But when it comes to blogging, it's that complaining thing we've been talking about that matters. The talk dynamic in therapy, the narrative, is the active ingredient. That and a few psychotropics on occasion.*

Anyway, who cares about research validity/reliability of a survey? Blogger references ENT in the post.

Bean Jones tells us that Blogging Is More Than What it Seems; it's good for you. So concludes the 2005 AOL survey about the reasons people blog. CNN followed this year, you might remember, with other research and a wink in our direction. It was a good week.

I have to write that book that Empath Daught told me to write ages ago. If only people still read books.

Wait. Maybe they do. Even though it's likely you watch YouTube whenever you can steal away, and even though you read blogs when you're not whipping up a gourmet recipe or eating pizza, my hunch is that most of you read books, too.

Here's a bit of what Bean Jones tells us over at the Blogger website, Simple.ology

Lately I've been worried over what to blog about. (Chalk it up to my brain going fuzzy from decongestants.) But then a friend gave me a link to an article discussing the results of a 2005 AOL survey done by Digital Marketing Services Inc. and I found myself energized.

A total of 600 bloggers--men and women aged 18 and above--participated in the survey.

About 48 percent of the bloggers revealed that they kept a blog because "it serves as a form of therapy" while around 40 percent stated that blogging "helps them keep in touch with family and friends."

Bill Schreiner, Vice President and General Manager of Community Programming for America Online, observed: "In a way, blogs serve as oral history. When it comes to sharing blogs and reading other people's blogs, we like to connect with people, learn about their lives, and find common ground."

An inspiring CNN article affirms blogging's therapeutic benefits. In it, journalist Anna Jane Grossman cites the results of the polls done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project in 2006. The results revealed that "roughly 12 million Americans have blogs...and many seem to use them as a form of group therapy."

Indeed, many blogs have transformed into informal support groups. They range from the low-key Everyone Needs Therapy to the bold and busy TreeHugger.

Bean goes on.

For those of us who like attention, this was a very nice thing, Simple-ology's recognition of a low-key (what could be better description than that) blog.

Hmmmm. Do you think that this might be one of the reasons people do it, blog? Could it be that attention thing?


*There are many active ingredients in therapy that works; the greatest of all, for sure, something we call a therapeutic relationship with a therapist.


Leora said...

we like to connect with people, learn about their lives, and find common ground
Yup, that about sums it up for me.

"Low-key" is nice, tranquil, calming. Congrats on the well-deserved mention!

When does blogging move from being therapy to being addiction? (I think I may be hovering into that later category).

therapydoc said...

When people tell you that you have a blogging addiction, Leo.

therapydoc said...

And yet.

We're nowhere near the level of an addiction to something like crack cocaine.

Anonymous said...

I've just gotten into reading blogs in the past couple months, and they are just amazing. (Love this one--and plus I get to read the back issues too!) Who knows, maybe I'll do my own sometime. It's hard to pick a topic... you know, do you do the blog with pics of kiddos or one about ideas? Kinda have to pick either or.

Therapydoc, you mentioned books in your post. I'm not sure if you have blogged on this already but it'd be fun if you did a post on the books that you like, you know the ones you tend to recommend to people and the ones that people come in talking about being meaningful for them? "Therapydoc's book bag" or something like that. Just an idea. :)

therapydoc said...

Okay Rosy, lemme think on it.

Virginia S. Wood, PsyD said...

And Poe was an alcoholic.

Nevertheless, there's plenty of more-solid research on journaling (on paper) that shows it definitely has therapeutic value. The results, especially those on journal-therapy groups, should generalize nicely to blogging. It's not the complaining part, however, that works best--it's 'constructive' writing (oriented toward problem-solving).

Anyways, thanks for the heads-up: I missed both those studies somehow and am going straight over to read them!

antiSWer said...

I would think that blogging might have more of a therapeutic impact as opposed to journaling, as there is a feedback component that is outside of oneself. However, some of that feedback can potentially be negative and therefore damaging. If you had a closed environment, I can see the therapeutic value rising.

However, it depends on the intent. If you're looking for attention rather than dialogue, you won't be paying much attention to core of the feedback, I would imagine.

Anonymous said...

Technology enabled intimacy -- an interesting phenomenon. How real is it? To what degree are the connections built through blogging authentic relationships? How about therapeutic ones? I know I am often moved by posts I read to feel and think things that stretch me. And I sometimes feel a sense of "contact" with a fellow blogger or with someone who posts on my blog.

What do you think?

porcini66 said...

Sometimes I read blogs to pass the time. Sometimes I read to learn something. Much of the time, I read because I feel some connection to the way the blogger writes - the topics or the tone perhaps. Blogs help me to feel "let in" somehow. That someone is sharing their thoughts and giving me a place to share mine in response. I don't think of it as an "intimate emotional connection", but it is definitely more connected than other forms of communication in my opinion. Written words have always offered me a deep sense of sharing. And blogs are "live" as opposed to a part of the "canon" of World Literature. My .02 cents as a reader...

As always, thanks for writing! :)

therapydoc said...

Anti-swker, there's so much to what you're saying. The dialogue is great, much more interesting than the posts sometimes, too.

and Barbara, I agee. We do get to know one another's personalities in the dialogue. There is intimacy, no doubt, and in our crazy post-modernist world in which all perception is valid, this reality is certainly very real.

Melissa Groman, LCSW said...

I vote for the talking cure in any safe formate. Better out in words...spoken or written, than internalized into illness or externalized into some sort of unsafe action.

I have, however, seen folks get nicked, or hurt even, on certain posting I like the moderated format.

It's so human, the need to be heard, and the need for attention, connection, and community. And the exchange of ideas is pretty wonderful. Is it a false universe? Maybe in a way, but I think we get some good thought provoking and ususally gentle prompts to take a look at ourselves and at life in different ways, and it's enjoyable most of the time...I say blog on!

And of course I am as loyal to books as ever.


Isle Dance said...

I think sharing (blogging) is about meaningful connection, which seems to be nature's therapy.

(I started out afraid to be heard/seen this way, so it's definitely my play therapy.)

Tanya said...

On books:

I'm reading "Why we Hate Us" by Dick Meyer. He mentions blogging tangentially. I would wager his take would be the relationships we have with other bloggers are artificial. You only put "out there" what you want others to see, and it's not "real" contact. On the other hand, we do that face-to-face as well, so where's the difference?

And having a readership is nice, no question. Validating, if you will...

Anonymous said...

Hi Doc!
I have read your blog for almost 2 years now. Your insight is phenomenal. I read the books that you have recommended. In fact, my husband sometimes tells me to read my therapy doc blog for answers. You have helped my life tremendously. I only wish that I had the courage to call you for a consult. Good therapy is so so hard to find!
I am so appreciative of your blog. You are so insightful!

Many thanks,

therapydoc said...

FD always says, your readers think they know you. .. but

therapydoc said...

Karen, totally blushing here.

SeaSpray said...

Blogging has been therapeutic for me.

That isn't why I started but has evolved that way. And of course I like to have fun along the way. It depends which blog I am writing in.

In my personal..yet open blog.. I ramble on ..usually about frustrations, hopes concerns. I don't at all try to be entertaining or even interesting. i am embarrassed at the though of my regular readers reading what I write there. Some do... but not often. i try to remember not to go out visiting in blogdom with that logo because I am not looking to draw my known readers in. Yet... I don't close it because... someone just might happen by and leave an insightful comment. Some people did early on with my mother issues.

Then I have guilt for pouring the hurts about our relationship in the blog. She will never know. it helps me to do it.

Then I think of the commandment "Honor thy mother and thy father" and I feel I am betraying her. has helped me to cope with some stressful things with her. Most definitely cathartic.

I agree...we do get to know people and their personalities. People can pretend... but truths come out between pen and paper... and sometimes what is in between the lines is more important.

I believe...I know some bloggers so well that I could pick out their writing style even if they began a new blog without notifying anyone.

I have been helped by bloggers via e-mail, comments and posts. I hope I have blessed others.

I have a wonderful support system with friends and family and I am so grateful for them.

And I am grateful for blogging.

There is always this other outlet if I need to communicate when real life people aren't available.

I am amazed at how I have friends across the pond, the country or a state away. I can actually seek their advice or share something, etc. And there are lots of laughs.

The exquisite humor of the med blogasphere is what initially drew me in. My 2 year blogaversary (wrote 1st post)is coming up November 13. Little did I know how passionate I would become with this hobby. :)

A fun thing to do is to go back to the very 1st post people write in their blogs and you can see how far they have come or what got them started. :)

I'm sorry this is so long. Delete if you want to TD. :)

It is 03:15. Okay..I'll admit to borderline addiction... but at least we are thinking and being creative as well as getting educated. :)