Extending the Writing Paradigm: Is Writing Haiku Poetry Healing?



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Haiku poetry was investigated in the context of the narrative writing paradigm to evaluate its healing potential. Participants, 98 introductory psychology students at a large southwestern university, wrote for 20 minutes a day on three consecutive days and completed self-report measures of happiness, satisfaction with life, spiritual meaning, creativity, physiological symptomatology, depression, anxiety, and health/illness orientation at baseline and 3-week follow-up. A series of ANCOVA linear contrasts were used to examine differences between groups writing narrative about a neutral topic, haiku about a neutral topic, haiku about nature, or haiku about a negative life event. It was found that writing haiku demonstrated increased levels of creativity overall. In addition, the nature haiku group reported significantly lower levels of physiological symptomatology than the negative life event haiku group and had significantly lower illness orientation than the haiku control group. These results provide a partial replication of a previous study. They also suggest that writing haiku poetry is a creative activity that leads one to be more sensitive to the writing topic, whatever it may be. Narrative writing, by contrast, appears to help integrate one?s experience. The difference between the heightened sensitivity of writing haiku and the integrative capacity of narrative are compared and recommendations made for future research.