By MARLYN CELEDONIO
Writing can help students both academically and therapeutically. Author Marian McCurdy did research for her book “From Trauma to Writing” about how beneficial it can be for students who write prose about personal traumatic experiences.
Her research considers the positives to better writing among students, comparing both strict academic topics and free writing. Some professors believe students produce better writing when a subject is academically required as compared to one that is written in more free-style format.
Free-style writing became stigmatized because schools do not give the same value to an emotionally well-written personal essay than a critical, researched essay. However, autobiographical writing allows students to write about their own life experiences, which at some point may become akin to therapy.
Trauma produces a mental picture, or ionic image, as McCurdy calls it. These are saved in the brain along with our ability to make decisions and have emotional reactions. The ionic images are deeply buried, which is why writing helps access such inaccessible feelings and unearth those buried emotions.
The point is that writing about extreme life moments is a method of trauma recovery. McCurdy contrasts emotional writing with image and detail telling, favoring emotional writing more. She says that she has offered this research about trauma writing to demonstrate its effectiveness on prose and therapeutic aspects, recalling that details and writing them down helps us heal.
“We cannot proclaim our humanity without acknowledging our capacity for suffering and the results of that suffering,” McCurdy states. Personal writing helps new writers find their inner voice and also gain control over their experiences by communicating them to others.