Cathartic is defined as providing psychological relief through open expression. Each person has different hobbies or tasks that are cathartic. Some believe that running is cathartic, others believe that art is cathartic. One form of art if poetry. The expression of words on paper can help individuals release their feelings and express themselves. That can lead to healing.
According to a lecture at the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Matthew Lieberman, Ph.D., professor of psychology at UCLA, has proven the theory of the cathartic power of writing and expression. In his study he imaged the brains of 30 individuals while they looked at and described horrific images in front of them. As a result the amygdala showed reduced activity. The amygdala is known as the emotional part of the brain, because it helps to regulate emotions, feelings and fear. By decreasing firing in the amygdala, expressing oneself through poetry may calm down the brain and help establish balance and serenity between emotions and the brain.
Studies by this same researcher also showed that writing about fear decreases the stress levels of that fearful object, similar to the theory that greater exposure leads to decreased sensitization. For example, writing about snakes or spiders for those who are extremely scared of these animals may help them become more desensitized to these feared things. Interestingly, writing on paper is more beneficial than typing on a keyboard. This could be due to muscle memory.
Psych2Go.net credits the Journal of Consciousness Studies for discovering that “reading poetry or prose enhances this effect even further. Poetry activates certain areas of the brain, such as the posterior cingulate cortex and medial temporal lobes, both of which have been linked to introspection, or the ability to examine your own mental and emotional processes. When reading a favorite passage of poetry or prose, areas of the brain connected to memory are stimulated, as reading something familiar is a type of recollection of sorts. Reading poetry also increases self-reflection and stimulates relaxation.”
Many people agree that reading and learning keeps the connections between neurons strong and healthy. Actively researching and looking stuff up is better than simply asking for the answer from someone who knows. Being curious and expressive can help stimulate memory and enhance mental and social awareness. Poetry is just one form of art that can help stimulate the mind and release negative emotions.
For individuals who struggle with an addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder, the Dual Diagnosis Helpline is available to provide help. Within the United States, the number of facilities providing high-quality, dual diagnosis treatment for both conditions simultaneously is limited. That is why we are here for you and your loved ones to help you get the help you deserve. If you’re seeking more information about dual diagnosis or require immediate treatment, you can always call 855-981-6047. Look for more blogs in this National Bad Poetry Day series.