Toward Understanding the Transformational Writing Phenomenon

Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Early psychological studies on the link between health and writing such as those conducted by Pennebaker and Beall (1986, Psychol Sci 8(3): 162–166, 1997) were rooted in a theory of inhibition and disease and produced mostly quantitative results. A meta-analysis of 146 such studies on the connection between emotional disclosure and improved health (Frattaroli, Psychol Bull 132:823–865, 2006) concluded that the practice of expressive writing for the improvement of psychological and physical health does work, on some people, some of the time; however, the influential aspects of the mechanism remain unclear (Low et al., Health Psychol 25:181–189, 2006). I suggest that further research in this field be conducted under the broader term transformational literacy practices and that methods examining them be more inclusive of various presentations of qualitative data such that these methods respect the organic development and pacing of a devout writing practice, as it is upkept by an individual who identifies as a writer. Under these suggestions, writer and researcher become one, and hermeneutical phenomenology, a highly suitable methodology for capitalizing on that union in order to generate rich and informative data on the writing-health link. When writing about the self is treated as phenomenon rather than task, we are then able to consider the cultural milieu in which that phenomenon has taken place as critical aspect of the data.


Expressive writing Emotional disclosure Phenomenology Cultural studies 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ontario Institute for Studies in EducationUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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