Monday, January 26, 2009

Stay Devoted to Your Dream (Part 2)

Well as I was saying, I read about an experiment that made me see how important the writers and creators of stories really are.

I've lost the actual article so I'll just tell it as I remember it. A certain number of volunteer subjects were taken into a Uni lecture theatre and their blood was taken to measure for a variety of different chemicals and hormones. Then they were split off into three different groups.
Group 1 was taken to a room where they listened to a depressing lecture about the suicide rates of a drug taking subculture in a big city. Group 2 watched a documentary about Mother Teresa and her work in Calcutta. Group 3 were treated to a range of stories and legends told by some of the Christian saints throughout history. Then they all returned to the lecture theatre to have their blood measured again. And the findings were very interesting.

They found that harmful & stressful hormones and chemicals, such as cortisone, that adversely affect heart and blood pressure were elevated in the group who had listened to the drug statistics. The were pleasanter substances for the Mother Teresa group, but only one group tested consistently higher for the light-hearted, pleasant, happiness inducing chemicals. This was the group who had listened to the legends and stories from the saints.

I thought, Aha, there's proof that a good, uplifting story can have a physical impact on people. We who tell stories are not merely amusing people but helping enhance their health, along with those other helping professions. I've heard it said that if we can touch people's emotions to make them happy, that's as good as taking an aspirin (or maybe even a course of depression medication). I've always enjoyed snuggling down with a good book at the end of a long day. I've found that I can remember stories and the points they were making far better than I can recall a word of the text book knowledge I've tried to stuff into my brain over the years. Perhaps the human brain has been made to run on stories as easily as cars can run on petrol. When I heard this, I began to take my liking to write fiction more as a good thing. It's great to think that a good story can have a therapeutic effect on others.


  1. Too true: a good book lifts the spirit to new heights. Keep writing! ;)

  2. Nice to have scientific evidence to back you up! I know that when I am deep into a good book, it makes the day go much better, chores don't seem as tiring when I'm looking forward to good reading.

  3. A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.

    Proverbs 17:22

    So true! Thanks for sharing and for writing!

  4. I didn't realize they had done studies on this! How interesting!

    I knew this was true just from my own life experiences. After years of being a Police/Fire & Rescue Telecommunicator, I needed a more uplifting career so I became a limousine chauffeur, which turned out to be a very soul enriching position.

    Instead of sharing everyone's worst moments, I got to share and even help create some of their best! I'll take making peoples dreams come true over solving their issues anyday.

    Keep up the writing! We all can use a great story! =D

  5. Thanks for this valuable info, Paula. By the way, you can quote anything from 50 years before 1955 or 70 years post 1955 as it is out of copyright.

    Word Tinker

    I know because of the sick feeling I get after the news most nights. I didn't watch much TV over Christmas time and had relatives about telling funny stories to each other and just generally interacting. No more news for me...I can log into anytime and choose what depressing story to read about!