An interview with author Art Frank about telling stories about illness. Art describes his own experience with an early heart attack and later cancer. He describes the way the medical world can be oblivious to the patient’s needs and subjective experience. He talks about the importance of finding your own voice after your body has been colonized by treatment. He offered examples of the ways that medical professionals can connect more personally with the stories of their patients. He also describes ways that it is both difficult and imperative that we learn to stay present with difficult stories of illness, our own, and those of others. Art’s book is The Wounded Storyteller: Body, Illness and Ethics.
An interview with author and social psychologist, Jamie Pennebaker about his research into the benefits of confiding painful experiences. Jamie discovered that childhood traumas resulted in far greater long term health and psychological difficulties if they were not confided in others. He suggests that one of the reasons that childhood sexual abuse may be so destructive, is because it is so often kept secret. He describes experiments where people are invited to write for 20 minutes each day for four days about their most emotionally troubling experience. In study after study, the writers who are able to explore the depth of their emotions and express different perspectives on the event tend to show health benefits years after the experiment. He also describes new research into how our unknowing use of pronouns in speech reveals a great deal about our personalities, preferences and relational compatibility.
An interview with storyteller, Laura Simms about the power of stories to remind us of what is good inside us. Laura describes the way that stories take the listener on a unique journey where each character is a part of us, and we live through the story as if our lives depended on it. Laura talks about her work as a narrative therapist in Haiti after the earthquake. She uses stories to remind people of experiences of joy, and also to remember shared stories that nourish their communities and traditions. Finally Laura describes ways to help individuals transform painful memories into stories without agenda.
An interview with Dr. Diane Morrow about writing and healing. Diane describes the ways that writing was healing for her in coping with her mother’s severe depression. But she also talks about how writing can be healing as a process or ritual in itself, how writing fiction can be create enough distance from pain to allow the listener to resonate with it. Diane describes the way that the blank page itself may be the best listener to a difficult story, and the painful need to let go of our longing for a specific person to hear our difficult stories.