The Therapeutic Elements of Fiction

person reading book in the sunlight

A good work of fiction has the power to heal your soul

Everyone seems to be busy in today’s world. There’s rarely time to ‘stop and stare’ at the small pleasures scattered randomly throughout this journey called life. Reading fiction is one of those little things one often forgoes in the name of a hectic lifestyle (you’ll want to find time, however, to check out HeyKiki for reading and writing tutors ready to help you sharpen your skills). What if the effects of fiction stretch beyond that of just offering pleasure and reach out into the realms of therapy?

A well written book has the ability to transport us out of this world and into the mind of the author. We see what he sees, hear what he hears and feel what he feels through his words. It is an effective way to escape the hardships of reality albeit temporarily, for a few moments each day. When we read such a book, we forget our own problems and bask in the warmth of the sunshine created by the author and his fictional world.

Fiction is a channel to express our emotions. What is therapy but the exploring of the human psyche to unleash the deepest of our emotions? A book helps us identify with its characters. We root for the protagonist, hate the antagonist and fall in love with one or few of the characters along the way. When we read, an emotional bridge is created between our mind and that of the people in the book. Though they may be fictional, we can generate and feel real emotional responses according to their successes and hardships. The book becomes a door at the threshold of reality and fiction.

An article in the New Yorker entitled “The Therapeutic Novel” proposes that not only reading books, but writing your own as well can be an immense source of therapy. Research shows that turning your tragic experiences into a novel of sorts can bring genuine healing and relief from your hurt and brokenness. In fact, many famed classic novelists got their inspiration from the tragedies of their own lives.

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