Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health

James W. Pennebaker and Cindy K. Chung

in The Oxford Handbook of Health Psychology

Published in print August 2011 | ISBN: 9780195342819
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

Expressive Writing: Connections to Physical and Mental Health


This paper presents a broad overview of the expressive writing paradigm. Since its first use in the 1980s, dozens of studies have explored the parameters and boundary conditions of its effectiveness. In the laboratory, consistent and significant health improvements are found when individuals write or talk about personally upsetting experiences. The effects include both subjective and objective markers of health and well-being. The disclosure phenomenon appears to generalize across settings, many individual difference factors, and several Western cultures, and is independent of social feedback.

Keywords: Mental health; language; expressive writing; trauma; emotional upheaval; cognitive change

Article.  16678 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Health Psychology

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