YRead? To Feel Better

This past week I stumbled across this little piece of anonymous advice. Not necessarily said or written as advice but something someone, anyone, could say in passing, "I might read until I feel better."

I, personally, read for many reasons and I must admit that to feel better is sometimes one of them. I read when I'm stressed, it calms me down. I read when I'm bored, it entertains me. I read when I'm upset because in the end reading really does make me feel better.

The concept of bibliotherapy is a relatively new one but it is definitely growing. Let me throw in a disclaimer right here, reading doesn't heal you and if you suffer enough that your doctor recommends medication then listen to your doctor. All I am saying here is that reading helps more than you know.

The fact that therapists are jumping in support of this new form of therapy is evidence enough. Psychotherapist Dr. Richard Singer claims that, "books can heal you and reading good books is more than a hobby, it's a therapy in itself." Judith Mawer from the Mersey Care Mental Health Trust also emphasizes this theory that, "people who don't respond to conventional therapy, or don't have access to it, can externalise their feelings by engaging with a fictional character, or be stimulated by the rhythms of poetry." Again, Raymond Tallis, a professor of geriatric medicine at the University of Manchester said,
"The pleasure of escape into a parallel world; the sense of control one has as a reader; and the ability to distance one's self from one's own circumstances by seeing them from without, suffered by someone else and gathered up into a nicely worked-out plot - somewhere around here is the notion of the Aristotelian purgation and Sartre's idea of 'the purifying reflection'."
I don't want you to come away from this thinking that reading is a form of escapism. To an extent, it may be, but really good literature, the literature that affects us and stays with us long after the book is closed leaves you looking inside yourself. To read is to grow, not to retreat. So saying, "I might read until I feel better," is a perfectly reasonable piece of advice.

What do you think of reading as a form of therapy?


- Allanah

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