[The following is an exact transcript of this podcast.]
“You need to talk about your feelings.” “Do you want to talk about it?” “We need to talk.” Whether it’s the aftermath of a failed relationship or the horrors of a school shooting, Americans do like to talk about things. Talking, we feel, is healthy. Talking will help us heal. But a study from the University of Buffalo suggests that talking’s not the panacea we seem to think it is. Psychologists there have found that people who don’t discuss their feelings after a tragedy actually fare better than those who do.
The researchers were studying the mental and physical toll of grappling with a community-wide trauma—in this case, 9/11. Shortly after the attacks, they offered participants an opportunity to share their thoughts. Some did, some didn’t. Two years later, the scientists found that people who kept it inside were better off than those who let it all hang out. The findings appear in the June issue of the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. So maybe we should give the grief counselors a vacation. Turn on some music. Maybe take a walk. Feel our feelings. But not feel like we have to share them with everyone else.