In two 5-week trials, healthy college students were randomly assigned either to experimental or control groups. Participants in the experimental groups wrote about their affection for significant friends, relatives, and/or romantic partners for 20 minutes on three separate occasions; on the same schedule, those in the control groups wrote about innocuous topics. Total cholesterol was assessed via capillary blood at the beginning of the trials and again at the end. Participants in the experimental groups experienced statistically significant reductions in total cholesterol. Control participants in the first study experienced a significant increase during the same period, whereas those in the second study did not. Cholesterol changes were largely unmoderated by linguistic features of the writing produced in the intervention. Potential therapeutic implications are discussed.
Imagine the implications. In the risk group for high cholesterol? Sit down and write about somebody you love and care for. Consider the good things in human relationships. Look for the things that, literally, heals your heart. It also gives a new meaning to the idea that a broken relationship can mean a broken heart. It can, really.
Now excuse me, I am off to spend 20 minutes writing about my favourite people, and why they are so special.