Why Write: What Experts Say
A great deal of research has been done that verifies the beneficial effects of life story writing. Here are links to some of that research:
By Claudia Collins, PhD, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension
The University of Nevada, Cooperative Extension created the Senior Autobiography Workshop to help older adults write about their lives in a way that can enhance social and family networks and improve seniors' self-esteem, important factors in maintaining physical and mental well-being. Both the process of life review and the autobiographical final product can produce great mental and emotional benefits. Workshop attendees report having gained insight on the value of their life within the context of their family structure.
By Nancy Richeson, PhD, CTRS
"An understanding about the way in which we think and who we are can be gained from writing down our life stories," Dr. Richeson writes. "... the gift of recording one's life story has gained respect and acceptance in university and clinical circles. For example, psychologists are beginning to understand the value of personal narratives in understanding growth and development." Dr. Richeson recommends ways to incorporate autobiography writing into therapeutic recreation.
in Aging Today
Pulitzer Prize-winning doctor Robert N. Butler, a pioneer in gerontology, wrote that life review is an essential and healthy part of aging. In this Aging Today article, he summarizes a presentation on the subject made at an American Society on Aging conference a few years before his death.
You may also want to check out The International Longevity Center, which Robert Butler founded.
Linda Woolf, a professor of psychology of Webster University in St. Louis, Mo., has written a thorough and clear look at the research on life review and autobiography writing.
By Pat McNees
Journal of Geriatric Care Management, Spring 2009
Personal historians, who help others tell or write their stories, family stories or organization's stories, know firsthand how powerful the experience can be, Pat McNees writes. It can improve the mood and quality of life for adults for both healthy and unhealthy adults. McNees gives many examples of ways autobiography writing is used, from hospices to businesses.
By Frank Bruni
Huffington Post, Sept. 16, 2009
A telling essay on the different perspectives people bring to the same memories, written by the author of "Born Round: The Secret History of a Full-Time Eater."