Abstract and Keywords
Writing or talking about past emotionally laden events in our lives has been found to result in a variety of psychological, social, and physiological changes that often lead to improvements in health for those who participate in the disclosure process in particular ways. This chapter will review the range of effects reported using emotional expression and disclosure as an experimental or therapeutic tool, highlighting illnesses and patient groups for which it has been effective. It will discuss the factors required for effectiveness and consider the likely importance of such psychological theories as disinhibition, cognitive processing, self-regulation, social integration, and exposure as explanations of the process. The findings of several recent meta-analyses will also be summarized. Finally, the neuroimmune changes identified in disclosure research will be considered, and a possible psychoneuroimmune mechanism to explain this intriguing field of research will be presented.
Keywords: autonomic, cognitive processing, cytokines, disclosure, disinhibition, emotion, expression, goals, inflammation, meaning-making, neuroimmune, self-regulation, self/no-self, social integration, trauma, word use
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