Blogging as Placebo?

In my feed reader today I found an article from The Scholarly Kitchen about how blogging is good for you.

“Hah!” I chortled. “Scientific proof that I’m not wasting my time!”

The Scientific American article that was the basis of the post started out so well, describing the “therapeutic benefits of writing about personal experiences,” both psychological and physiological. (Hey: did you know blogging cures cancer? And it’s a happy pill without a prescription!)

But then things started to get a little less complimentary toward us bloggers (emphasis added):

As social creatures, humans have a range of pain-related behaviors, such as complaining, which acts as a “placebo for getting satisfied,” Flaherty says. Blogging about stressful experiences might work similarly.

People with Wernicke’s aphasia speak in gibberish and often write constantly. In light of these traits, Flaherty speculates that some activity in this area could foster the urge to blog.

Located mainly in the midbrain, the limbic system controls our drives, whether they are related to food, sex, appetite, or problem solving. “You know that drives are involved [in blogging] because a lot of people do it compulsively,” Flaherty notes.

Well. I think they just likened blogging to complaining, spouting gibberish, and uncontrollable monkey-brain drives.


Then the article’s author redeemed herself with this last paragraph:

Some hospitals have started hosting patient-authored blogs on their Web sites as clinicians begin to recognize the therapeutic value. Unlike a bedside journal, blogging offers the added benefit of receptive readers in similar situations, Morgan explains: “Individuals are connecting to one another and witnessing each other’s expressions—the basis for forming a community.

That’s right, we’re forming community! Remote, electronically mediated, asynchronous, nonsensory community.

But hey, I’ll take it.

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Filed under Blogging, Health, Rants, Silliness and Mayhem

9 responses to “Blogging as Placebo?

  1. I have a thing about the term “community”. I think it is overused and ill-defined, especially when it comes to the blogging “community”.

    Anyway–did they find your car?

  2. We moved here last summer and farming consumed our life. It was really impossible to connect with people. Then, there is the fact that we live in a rather isolated area, making it hard to visit the people you DO meet because you have to drive 40 min.-an hour just to have a cup of tea. Then winter came and I was in the house with my family 24/7. How does one keep her sanity? She blogs! Blogging this winter really kept me from delving into S.A.D., the fact that I had at least a few people to connect with daily became important to my well-being. This summer I want to make more of an effort to connect with “real” people, but I don’t think I will completely let go of blogging. You all are my friends!

  3. “Community” or “connection”, I don’t really care what term we use. I find blogging to be a wonderful way to connect with like minded people. I love reading about the joys and trilas of parenthood, I like getting compliments on my photography and garden. Recently a blog friend had surgery and found out she had cancer, it has been a huge satisfaction to me to be able to give her moral support and also give her money so she can make it through the down time that chemotherapy will force on her. All of these things are good for my mental and spiritual health. How lovely that someone has written a scientific article about how blogging is good for us. I suspected it was all along, as long as I can avoid being welded to the computer for 18 hours a day!

  4. Nana

    Just thought I’d share some definitions of community which would apply to bloggers.

    community: a body of persons of common and especially professional interests scattered through a larger society : fellowship

    fellowship: community of interest, activity, feeling, or experience

    If one is snowbound, housebound or otherwise isolated, or maybe just shy, blogging gives the opportunity to connect and, methinks it is a wonderful way to prevent feelings of alienation for those who might be “socially challenged”. What a joyous tool!

    Blogging is an essential method for some individuals to communicate with a community and to experience a sense of belonging. What a joyous tool!

  5. Eve

    Call me crazy, but I like the compulsive gibberish explanation.

  6. I don’t care what anybody says or what undesirable category such a trait might snap onto my back: Blogging causes me to feel joyful, happy, even at times ecstatic. On occasion, though, such activities see a sadness covering me, sometimes even grief or horror.

    Truth floods my screen, both as I scribble and as your marks gush into my home.

    …truth…that’s what I’m after.

  7. Sarah: Yes, I feel that way too a bit, because it is so remote, electronically mediated, asynchronous, and nonsensory. Haven’t heard anything on the car yet.

    Lisa Anne: Maybe it’s a fallacy, but I feel that I have online friends too. Lots of definitions of friend, just like community.

    HMH: I think blogging is a great way to meet both like-minded people and those we would normally call “other”. And certainly there is wonderful moral support out there in blogland.

    Nana: Hmm…”fellowship” has a nice ring to it.

    Eve: Funny, you never seem to write gibberish. But I like that one too 🙂

    Shirley: Welcome and thank you for commenting! I’ve had both joyful and incredibly sad moments reading blogs. I think, to quote Fox Mulder, the truth is out there–though it’s still mediated truth, mediated by the medium and the writer (and the reader in all his or her preconceptions and predispositions). I guess I just want to remember the limits as well as the joys.

  8. This is definately a theme at the moment, GreenBeanDreams is saying that environmentalists need to ‘build our church i.e. our community – that being green as lonely individuals is limited. I know how much inspiration and motivation I get for both Waldorfiness, Natural Healthiness and Eco-Friendliness from blogging … its my favourite ‘community’.

  9. It was the pain of my grief from my Mother’s death that led to my blog. It has healed me in many, many ways. I only have three posts out of 500 that relate to my grief… still, it heals the grief. Fascinating. I suspected as much.

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