According to Louise DeSalvo, writing has the power of healing both psychologically and physically. Writing as a way of Healing by Louise De Salvo reveals and explains the healing power of writing. DeSalvo writes from personal experience as a writer and a teacher, while also drawing on scientific research, as well as the experience of other writers. She believes that it is not mere words on a paper that allow for this transformation, rather the combination of an event attached to emotion that will trigger this healing power. However, in dealing with illness narratives, questions and criticisms often arise. Literary critics frequently criticize illness narratives for over generalizing suffering, trauma, and illness as well as question the authenticity of these memoirs.
Ann Jurecic challenges literary critics in her book Illness as Narrative. This book explores how both writers and readers use illness narratives to make meaning of pain and suffering. According to Jurecic, it is impossible to truly comprehend illness or even make complete sense out of it, however illness narratives give meaning to a terrifying experience. She points out that dominant trends in literary criticism reject the idea that writing can be a form of healing and in doing so these literary critics miss the point that there is immense meaning in illness narratives, she suggests, “Literary critics’ disdain for or disinterest in illness memoirs suggests, above all, that contemporary critics have become alienated from ordinary motives for reading and writing” (KL 151) There are indeed many criticisms when it comes to these illness narratives, however Jurecic suggests that critics look beyond the suspicion and doubt and find the meaning in these memoirs. Jurecic strongly believes that these narratives allow writers to make meaning of their hardships. Writing these stories, allow for them to better understand their situation and connect events and emotions that they couldn’t do without writing on paper.
There are some subtle, yet important differences between Jurecic and DeSalvo.
For one, Ann Jurecic addresses medical practice and psychology and humanities and is trying to change the minds of literary critics. While DeSalvo, on the other hand, cites psychological studies and her book appeals to readers with illness experience. DeSalvo attempts to convince and encourage those with traumatic experiences to start writing in order to help transform their lives. DeSalvo’s stance is extremely clear and straightforward. She is adamant in her belief that writing allows for both physical and psychological healing. Jurecic, however is much more subtle in developing her point. She argues that making meaning of illness narrative could possibly be helpful in trying to heal. However, Jurecic will not explicitly state or even hint that writing allows for healing. These illness narratives give meaning and understanding to hardship, but don’t necessarily heal according to Jurecic.
- Brain, Self, & Environment
- The Senses
- Theories of Mind