The Catharsis Of Writing Explained


Have you ever heard of the neurotransmitter called dopamine?


Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in our craniums, bypassing system upon system of nerve fibers. It was recently found that when someone reads a passage written by somebody else, dopamine does not release. However, when you re-write the same passage in your own words, the brain lights up bright red with dopamine signals! What does this have to do with…well, anything? Simple: dopamine is called the “pleasure hormone,” and it is released during eating, sleeping, and sex. When you drink, dopamine releases, causing a high like none other. In fact, adrenaline is heavily linked to dopamine, where adrenaline junkies play footsie with death out of the “rush” they feel when they dive off of a cliff or run a race.


The fact is, dopamine releases because it is a symbol of ancestry.

What is the purpose of dopamine? To give us incremental amounts of pleasure when we perform some form of vital or crucial aspect of our existence. When you breathe, dopamine tells you it feels good because it wants you to, well, continue breathing. Many synthetic drugs release dopamine, such as cocaine and methamphetamines. What is my point here? Our ancestors must have needed this chemical to survive, right? Well, what does that say about writing if dopamine releases in fundamental amounts when we write? Why is creative writing cathartic? It is because it allows a “writer’s rush,” as I call it, much like a runner’s high. This means that dopamine must have served a vital purpose. Case and point: caves.


Our long-living ancestors needed to draw on cave walls to communicate. Anthropology is an area I know all too well, and that is why I offer my psychological writing services for others. Dopamine functions as quite possibly the oldest and most primitive hormone in the human body and mind. It was there to keep us alive. When our first ancestors died of starvation, life gave us a pleasurable feeling when we ate, allowing us to continue doing it. This is the essence of survival, and apparently, writing a book, a blog or even just texting with friends is cathartic! It is a primitive desire to communicate with others. The same goes for vocal communication. A recent study I helped out with found that talking, in and of itself, rewires the brain, and this goes back in context to our cavemen roots. We needed to communicate to survive.


Write. Daily. It causes neurogenesis, which is the development of old nerves. When our neurons die out over time, writing can actually establish a great foundation for rebuilding them. Something as simple as half an hour a day of writing could, theoretically, solve puzzles and create therapeutic effects. This is not a new study, nor a new discipline. People have been advertising as writing therapists for years, but what makes my services different? Nothing! However, I won’t lie: I am a Psychology major with Honors and a Marketing Consultant. I know how to get the right words onto paper, and I am working alongside my other company, Valiance Coaching, to bring this service to you. If you want more info, contact me!

brown glass bottle with liquid and pipette


It can be insinuated that dopamine is not the only thing great about writing. We know that blood pressure lowers (or spikes, depending on your emotions about writing, as many people hate it) when putting your words on paper. We also have to consider the ramifications of long-term benefits. Writing a daily blog or journal can put things into a new perspective. We all have a tendency to write and communicate without knowing it. Sending a text to your friend can actually lead to social benefit, which is (you guessed it) something dopamine looks out for. When you write, you feel like you got it out of your system; you feel relieved. That is endorphins, which release during high-intensity writing sessions like our many workshops.


Do yourself a favor. Write 500 words a day, summarizing your thoughts, feelings, and emotions. This should not be a homework assignment. Rather, keep a diary or a blog and keep it private. Let the thoughts belong to only you. Then, after writing, document on a scale of 1 to 10 how you felt about your day. Do not reread the blog or journal entry. Just measure over a week of this consistently. I guarantee, your mood will elevate; your stress levels will drop; you can even go sit at CVS or Walgreens and test your blood pressure, which we have already done in our lab! It will drop if you write. The brain will also begin to connect the pieces. It will see that writing is helping, causing hormones to release that relieve stress!

crop laboratory technician examining interaction of chemicals in practical test modern lab



To conclude a simple conclusion: write daily. We are offering some fun workshops coming up that teach you how to focalize your writing efforts into therapeutic effects. Keep an eye out on our Facebook Page ( or Twitter account (@circle5books) and post your thoughts and feelings! I want to hear from you, and I want to see if writing helps your mind calm down a bit at the end of a tiring day. If interested in attending a free workshop, reach out! We are putting tickets up soon. Thanks to Valiance Coaching for their partnership!

Published by Ryan W. McClellan

Entrepreneur, Author & Business Consultant With A Background In Multimedia & Content Development

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