What I never wanted to tell you: therapeutic letter writing in cultural context

Jolly, Margaretta (2011) What I never wanted to tell you: therapeutic letter writing in cultural context. Journal of Medical Humanities, 32 (1). pp. 47-59. ISSN 10413545

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Therapeutic letter writing whether to your mother, your cancer, your pet or your doctor represents an especially powerful form of creative writing in healthcare settings. At the same time, it shares some of the features of the commercially-driven culture of self-help. I examine this practice as a contemporary form of life writing that promotes ideologies of the vulnerable self, particularly in letters deliberately written not-to-be-sent. What we can make of the troubling efficacy of such writing in this light? In exploring the dangers as well as benefits of therapeutic letter writing, I suggest that sociologists and philosophers need to work more closely with psychologists in order to see individual change in dialogue with political change. I conclude by considering whether narrative therapists, who correspond with their clients as part of their treatment, may ironically provide a model for this way forward.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: University of Sussex Business School > Centre for Community Engagement
Research Centres and Groups: Centre for Life History and Life Writing Research
Depositing User: Margaretta Jolly
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:08
Last Modified: 30 Jul 2018 15:50
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/24262
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