Elizabeth Schaefer built her career thinking and writing as a scientist – detached, analytical, unemotional. When depression and bipolar disorder derailed her life, and years of hospitalization, medication, and electric shock therapy left her exhausted but still depressed, she began to write about it. For the first time she became acquainted with the language of her own emotion. As she continued to put those emotions down on paper, she discovered a new power over her illness. She explains, “Recognizing those emotions as they come up on the page – which may be different from the recognition that we do without writing – allows us to organize and manage our thoughts better. That managing can then lead to some sense of catharsis, or freeing of some of those emotions, which allows us to then start to resolve them.” If you have a lifelong habit of writing in your journal every day, or if you’ve never explored an intimate moment with your thoughts and the written word, Dr. Schaefer offers a host of new possibilities for healing, personal growth, and discovering new wisdom and strength with her insightful techniques for writing your way through the darkness. (hosted by Justine Willis Toms)
Elizabeth Schaefer, Ph. D. holds a doctorate in biological sciences from Stanford University. In 1998 she developed a creative writing course for people with mood disorders for the university’s Department of Psychiatry, and continues as the program’s facilitator. She is a frequent speaker for the National Alliance on Mental Illness and other organizations, and has written articles for the Stanford News Service, Nature, Newsweek and other periodicals.
Dr. Schaefer is the author of:
- Writing Through the Darkness: Easing Your Depression with Paper and Pen (Celestial Arts 2008)
To learn more about the work of Elizabeth Schaefer go to writingthroughthedarkness.com.
Topics explored in this dialogue include:
- What simple technique you can use to write about issues that seem too difficult to face
- Why keeping a traumatic event secret can make you physically ill
- Why different forms of writing allow you to access different places in your psyche
- What short, simple steps you can take to begin writing your own memoir
- Why depression can be useful
Host: Justine Willis Toms Interview Date: 10/16/2008 Program Number: 3280