As the challenge of living with multiple sclerosis (MS) often leaves patients feeling isolated and depressed, the biopharmaceutical firm EMD Serono has launched an online storytelling platform called My Story. The platform is designed to be an empowering and therapeutic support resource for patients and caregivers in their struggles with MS.
This initiative comes during March, MS Awareness Month.
“People with MS sometimes have to make lifestyle changes that can make them feel disconnected from who they were before their diagnosis,” David Nichols, senior director of advocacy and state government affairs at EMD Serono, told Multiple Sclerosis News Today. “We have found that storytelling is a technique that may help people deal with some of the challenges of a chronic condition. We hope that the My Story platform will help those impacted by MS share their experiences.”
In a statement provided to this news website, EMD Serono explained that over the company’s more than 20 years of experience in advancing care for people with MS, it has come to understand that an MS diagnosis can make individuals feel isolated from friends and family, and disconnected from the person they had perceived themselves to be — an observation supported by the findings of an MS LifeLines Ambassadors survey.
Research studies also show that storytelling can indeed have a therapeutic effect.
A study published in the Journal Of Clinical Psychology, titled “Forming a story: The health benefits of narrative,” by James Pennebaker and Janel D. Seagal of the University of Texas at Austin, noted that “writing about important personal experiences in an emotional way for as little as 15 minutes over the course of three days brings about improvements in mental and physical health.” This is a finding the researchers say has been replicated across age, gender, culture, social class, and personality type.
Another study, published in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology and titled “Living into the story: Agency and coherence in a longitudinal study of narrative identity development and mental health over the course of psychotherapy,“ reported that “narrative identity is the internalized, evolving story of the self that each person crafts to provide his or her life with a sense of purpose and unity.”
That study, which its author Jonathan M. Adler says is the first of its kind to examine short-term personality change via an emphasis on narrative identity, suggests that people who write personal narratives in which they are in control feel a sense of empowerment that is beneficial to their mental health and well-being.
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