I wonder how many bloggers know about this — research about the beneficial effects of journal writing. James Pennebaker, a professor of psychology at the University of Texas Austin, has done a lot of research in this area. Here is a list of studies. This article sums it up nicely: “Writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way for as little as 15 minutes over the course of three days brings about improvements in mental and physical [!] health. This finding has been replicated across age, gender, culture, social class, and personality type.”
I’m guessing this research started as a search for the crucial ingredients of psychotherapy. What happens during psychotherapy that helps people? Early research found that the therapist’s training made no detectable difference. This suggested that just telling one’s story was therapeutic. Journal writing is another step in the same direction: You tell your story without anyone listening. Next step: studying the health effects of blogging.