Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Journal: blogging and catharsis

From the Washington Post:
Nearly half of bloggers consider it a form of therapy, according to a recent survey sponsored by America Online Inc. And although some psychologists question the use of the Internet for therapy, one hospital in High Point, N.C., started devoting space to patients' blogs on its Web site, a practice Inova Fairfax Hospital is also considering.

The rest of the article goes on to talk about the risks posed by taking one's personal information to the internets, how you should worry about identity theft, potential employers checking out your blogs, etc. What I think is so interesting is that in addition to what you might think is the most natural fodder for the blogosphere--politics--there is this huge chunk of the blogosphere that is about something much more personal, something not borne of conviction, but of ambivalence: illness blogs. Like this one.

To me, this means there is a large group of people, myself included, who are having trouble decoding the modern experience of illness using the traditional tools (medical professionals, family, faith, friends, etc.). I don't think it's just about catharsis, really. After all, I can write about the silver-dollar-sized purple blob that showed up on my penis the morning after the last time I gave myself an injection of papaverine (for those of us who flunked Viagra), and that's sorta cathartic, I guess, but there's more to it than just the catharsis I feel after talking about the ridiculous lengths to which I must go to deal with my MS-related erectile dysfunction. It's also about trying to help fill in some of the gaps in means available for decoding MS, and catharsis alone isn't going to fill those gaps. It's part cathartic performance but the essential ingredient is some kind of community, even if it's sometimes silent.

Cyber-Catharsis: Bloggers Use Web Sites as Therapy


Kim said...

Very well said.

Michelle said...

Bravo. Kudos. Bloggers are the insight to what we can't just say out loud for fear that we become whiney, mispoken, or misunderstood. It's just us being the us we sometimes just can't be. :o)