It’s better to keep your feelings bottled inside: study

June 1st, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by admin  

Washington, June 1 (IANS) In a finding that goes against conventional wisdom, a new study contends that it is better to keep your feelings bottled up - particularly after experiencing a traumatic event like a terrorist attack. Debunking the popular notion that unburdening oneself might be normal or even healthy, the study suggests that those who remain silent might be better off than those who vent their feelings.

The study, by Mark Seery of the University of Buffalo, focused on people’s responses to the terrorist attacks of Sep 11, 2001.

The findings have important implications for expectations of how people should respond in the face of a collective trauma affecting a community or a nation, said Seery.

He said the results should not be interpreted to mean that expressing one’s thoughts and feelings is harmful or that if someone wants to express their emotions they should not do so.

“It’s important to remember that not everyone copes with events in the same way, and in the immediate aftermath of a collective trauma, it is perfectly healthy to not want to express one’s thoughts and feelings,” he noted.

The researchers compared people who chose to express their thoughts and feelings versus those who chose not to express.

“We found… people who chose not to express were better off than people who did choose to express,” Seery said.

Seery pointed out that immediately after last year’s tragic shootings at Virginia Tech University there were many “talking head” psychiatrists in the media describing how important it is to get all the students expressing their feelings.

“Instead, we should be telling people there is likely nothing wrong if they do not want to express their thoughts and feelings after experiencing a collective trauma.

“In fact, they can cope quite successfully and, according to our results, are likely to be better off than someone who does want to express his or her feelings.”

These findings will appear in the forthcoming issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology.

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