Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Emotional Benefits of Expressive Writing in a Sample of Romanian Female Cancer Patients

Academic journal article Cognitie, Creier, Comportament

Emotional Benefits of Expressive Writing in a Sample of Romanian Female Cancer Patients

Article excerpt


The main purpose of the present study was to investigate the possible positive effects of the Expressive Writing paradigm on a sample of Romanian female cancer patients. The major tenet of this paradigm is that if individuals with high levels of distress express in writing, for three or four consecutive writing sessions, their deepest thoughts and emotions regarding the activating event and its consequences, on the follow-up assessment they would experience significantly lower levels of distress, and improved physical and/or psychological functioning. Our study has evinced, that the participants of the sample we investigated has experienced at the follow-up assessment significantly lower levels of distress, and significantly higher levels of positive meaning in life and benefit finding, however, the results may depend on the pre-intervention levels of depression. Nevertheless, the Expressive Writing task has not significantly contributed in our sample to the enhancement of the levels of positive emotions.

KEYWORDS: Expressive Writing paradigm, distress, meaning in life, benefit finding.

Humans have an innate need to share the emotions they experience. The expression of emotions might create a link between our internal experiences and the outside world. Studies investigating the social sharing of emotions have revealed this human propensity elicited by even insignificant, everyday events (Rimé, Herbette, & Corsini, 2004; Rimé, Mesquita, Philippot, & Boca, 1991; Rimé, 1987). These studies have evinced that the inclination to share certain emotions evoked by even minor events is neither education nor culture dependent. Asians, North Americans, Europeans, regardless of their levels of education, need to share with others the fear, anger, sadness, happiness, affection, etc., induced by all sorts of events (Rimé, Herbette, & Corsini, 2004; Pennebaker, Zech, & Rimé, 2001).

The study of Emotional Expression has a long history, which dates back to the 1870s with scientific investigations undergone by Charles Darwin who emphasized the biological utility of emotional expression. His theory contributed to the development of an evolutionary-expressive approach to emotion, which suggests that emotions exist because they contribute to survival. Kennedy-Moore and Watson (1999) regard emotional expression as having four central functions, the promotion of arousal regulation, self-understanding, the development of coping skills and finally, to help improve interpersonal relationships.

It has also been noticed that the propensity to socially share emotions is not accounted for several personality traits. As Pennebaker et al. (2001) have stated "general personality dimensions such as the "Big Five" have no predictive value for the social sharing of emotion" (p. 522). However, as expected, alexithymia - a particular personality dimension, which involves a marked difficulty to use appropriate language to express and describe feelings, and to differentiate them from bodily sensations, a striking paucity of fantasies and a utilitarian way of thinking (Sifneos, 2000), has been repeatedly found to negatively correlate with emotional sharing (especially regarding negative emotions) (Taylor, Bagby, & Parker, 1997). Gross (2002) claims that expression plays a crucial part in the way we process emotions and in reducing distress which results from negative emotional experience.

Nevertheless, it has also been observed that even if people need to share all sorts of emotions, guilt, shame, and frustration are less frequently expressed and socially shared (Rimé, Herbette, & Corsini, 2004; Finkenauer & Rimé, 1998). This apparently paradoxical phenomenon has to do with attitudes that reflect the socially, culturally (and sub-culturally) imposed norms regarding the acceptability and/or unacceptability of sharing certain emotions with other people.

The need to share one's emotions is even more imperative in the cases when the individual experiences negative emotions of high intensity. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.