La escritura terapéutica, artículo en inglés

Writing has been a graphic mode of transmitting information science ancient times, 
but not the only one that allows us to express ourselves. But this graphical representation informs or communicates our thinking from a spoken or oral language´s bases. This was how it all began, from our earliest childhood oral language was the first thing that drove us to express ourselves, and as the years went by we would add written language into our skills.
With writing, we can represent concepts, such as our perceptions, feelings, 
affections or ideas through logograms. And after certain efforts have been 
overcome (for example learning grammar), writing can become a liberating exercise 
of healing energies, a catharsis for our mind, also in the Greek sense, to 
experience "a purification" of Certain painful feelings.
Egypt, XX b.C.
In this regard, I can quote ancient Egypt as one of the few civilizations where 
writing was fundamental becauseof its practical and/or transcendental value, with 
special powers in those occasions where therapeutic writing was necessary to cure 
and heal qualms.For example, I will cite a chronicle of that time, where an ancient 
Egyptian speaks with his soul in the "novel" or manuscript that is preserved in the
scroll of the Ani Papyrus, called «The Dialogue of a desperate with his soul »
or «The complaints of Felah». The story goes with a man suffering from anguish o
f death, and his Ba(Soul) appears to him revealing that it will abandon him if he 
continues with a pessimistic attitude toward life and death, thereby losing his 
immortality and dying for sure. Surprisingly at that time in ancient Egypt this man 
suffer from anguish death because he did not believe in the afterlife, and he thought
that when anyone dies, end of story!A conflict is set up, his Ba asks him to listen 
to him, "it is good to listen to the people" (says ancient saying), the man reasoned 
and in the dialogue between the two the man reconsiders, and in the end he accepts 
the resurrection after death, living his Ba with himuntil the end of his days.This 
ancient Egyptian literature was directed to the central existence of the individual,
shimmering on the human being and his psychology in mind and body. It is another type
of treatment, in writing the Egyptian man found consolation and undo, reflection and 
change,“We had to write!” they may say. Through the word and the writing wordthe 
ancient Egyptian was creating this type of psychological "technique" to support 
thoughts and symptoms that waspractically in daily life in hospitals, 
life-houses or temples, etc. 
Writing has destined to a revolution both for language and for the human psyche, 
since one another are closely linked to our psycho-affective development, initially 
in the beginnings of our childhood and then afterwards in adulthood. If as we said, 
in the beginning we started our dialogue with the world (family, school, friends ...)
from an oral tradition, that later we will complement it from a written tradition, both 
writing and reading. Togetherthese ways of communication allow us to supposedly 
establish a link with another or with ourselves, whether we think about it, say it, 
whether we write it or read it. 
We had have previously mentioned the wisdom of ancient Egypt, which basically 
consisted in the power of the word (apart from its technological or economic 
development), which extended to writing in its gift to heal. It is the Holy 
Scripture. Thus, for the ancient Egyptians, scripture, their sacred language, 
the sacred word, the hieroglyph - the words of the God - were creative and healing 
realities that served them as weapons to fight disease.
I do not think that the invention of writing has wanted to replace oral language. 
Because for us it is important to clarify it, since psychotherapy in its modes of 
psychodynamic or psychoanalytic intervention are fundamentally oral, for reasons of 
technique and methodology. Already from the Aristotelian tradition it is known that 
there is a dependence on writing to what we psychologists call natural languages, 
because writing is subordinate to verbal or spoken language. Aristotle said that 
the sounds expressed by the voice are the symbols of the states of the soul, and 
the written-words are the symbols of the words uttered with the voice. He has a 
good point there!
Already in the twentieth century, from contemporary psychology, Gordon Wells explores
the concept of writing and identifies four levels of use:
1.  The executive. The most basic, which refers to the control of written code, 
the ability to encode and decode graphic signs.
2.  The functional. That includes interpersonal communication and requires knowledge
 of the different contexts, genres and records in which writing is used.
        3. The instrumental. That corresponds to the use of literacy as a vehicle for 
access to scientific or academic knowledge.
        4. And the epistemic use of language referring to the highest cognitive 
development function in human brain, in which the author or person in the process 
of writing transforms knowledge from personal experience to ideas modeler.
Of course we consider other classifications and distinctions, as among the personal 
or social uses that motivate us to write. Intra-personal or inter-personal reasons 
for the aesthetic or frisky joy, since writing has sometime that dimension of the 
pleasant or entertaining task. But this is an aspect that least concerns us, 
since on the other side of our emotions, those not so playful or joyable, we could 
write to pour on paper what ails us, like our negative thoughts for reasons of 
sadness, pain or anger.
In my opinion, it is therapeutic in the sense that it is constructive, sanitized to 
our torments, because we could put our ideas, our feelings, in order. In this sense, 
it is therapeutic because we can evacuate in writing those feelings or emotions that 
make us feel bad, because the writing allows us to open this field of our feelings 
and feeluninhibited.
We can also think of writing as a container for our instantaneous, immediate, and 
spontaneous language, and we agree with many author´s that we are quoting that often 
our oral language can be messy, ambiguous or redundant, and very fast.Although, 
it must be said, for those of us on the side of psychotherapy, that oral language 
is fundamental in the therapeutic process, since we would seek on purpose 
this "chaos" for the aim of de-compose and re-structure all those thoughts that 
in mind can come and go on a frenetic journey none stop. 
In this sense, the inner “monologues”in which we live, or as we say in psychology, 
our inner thoughts, fantasies, wishes,… are useful and necessary, and are the kingly 
means for the resolution of our internal conflictsin our psyche. In this sense, 
writing supports us and supports those tendencies to the regression process that we 
are called to perform in oral language and therapeutic transfer, that is 
on the couch of a psychoanalyst. But just as reading is useful, so is writing.
Practical exercises
We want to suggest right now a therapy through writing that allows us to solve 
certain problems, make certain discoveries or make some important decisions in our 
lives. It is as if writing helps us to slow over in our thoughts, and to distance 
ourselves from certain impulses, stimuli or outbursts that make us careless 
and have immoderate action. It is as if we could give our thought the necessary 
time to mature in its way of thinking. It is what in psychotherapy (oral or spoken)
we call elaboration, here in writing would be apply for a mental process 
to the preparation of our inner world, our mind or our psyche to action in 
the unfolding of our behavior or decision making. In written language we can pass 
on our thoughts, affections or fantasies (what in psychotherapy we call to act, 
or acting-out), and if it is a symbolic action put into words, writing would be 
its complementary double. In this sense, writing would be an acceptable and natural 
dissociation of what in psychoanalysis is called the primary process 
in a möebius-tape with the secondary process.
        An ancient Castilian saying says: first to think, then to act.
We will propose some writing exercises, which will consist in some questions and 
their corresponding answers on certain issues that may beof concern 
(at the end of the article, in the bibliography, you have some books where 
you can consult these practices):
  • To improve self-esteem
  • To improve our relationship
  • To know oneself
For example, exercise to know yourself.
Trace in your notebook a timeline from your birth date to the present day.
Point out the most important events and experiences.
Answer back:
-How do you feel in this moment? 
-What do you think of what you have written?
-How do you think you will feel in the future?
In therapeutic writing we could find that ideal friend who never leaves us, who always 
understands us. 
When we enter into conflict, anxiety or anguish growth, we could be able to put order, or 
better said: put containment to these overflowing preoccupations through writing in 
therapeutic sense. 
From these many writers have come out, and of great fame.
This is what happened to an author we quoted in our bibliography, a pianist by profession, 
who wrote his autobiographical book, and who himself acknowledges in writing his book as 
a therapeutic writing. A good professional, but with a very rough life and with many psychic 
and emotional problems. Although it was not the only therapy he had to overcome his traumas
(incidentally, childhood traumas), but writing could give him a "granito de arena". 
Incidentally, we must take into account that we should consult a specialist if the anxiety or 
suffering persists or surpasses us. The case of this musician is extreme but illustrative, 
I advise his reading. Also to begin to exercise in the therapeutic writing, I put in the 
bibliography the exercises of Reyes Adorna, they are quite interesting. Likewise, we 
recommend reading Sonia Scarpante in: Introduzione alla Scrittura Terapeutica, a link that 
I also place at the end of this article in the bibliography.

-Aristóteles. (1995). Lógica (Órganon).  «Sobre la interpretación», «Escritura, voz, pensamiento y realidad. Lo verdadero y lo falso»16a– 33. Editorial Gredos, 115. Madrid.

-Adorna Castro, Reyes (2014). Practicando la escritura terapéutica. 79 ejercicios. Ed. DescleéBrouwer. Bilbao, España.

-Gascón Razé, David N. (2008). Antecedentes de las Psicoterapias: La cura por la palabra en la antigua medicina egipcia. Libro electrónico. Madrid.

-Gordon Wells. (1988). Aprender a leer y escribir. Editorial Laia, Barcelona.

-Hernández Merino, Ana. (2016). Actividades artísticas y creativas en Terapia Ocupacional. Editorial Síntesis, Madrid.

-Rhodes, James. (2015). Instrumental. Memorias de música medicina y locura. Editorial Blackiebooks. Barcelona.

-White, Michael. (2008). Medios narrativos para fines terapéuticos. Editorial Paidós. Barcelona.  Sonia Scarpante.

David Norberto Gascón Razé
Psicólogo en Madrid
Teléfono: 636 554 562
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