The Healing Power of Story

The Art and Science of How Sharing Your Personal Story Can Improve Your Health

Foreword by Robin Young

Improve your overall wellbeing through the healing power of writing and storytelling with these inspiring true stories to help you see your illness—and yourself—in new and positive ways.

Navigating illness can be both frightening and isolating. When a serious illness strikes you or a loved one, your whole world is turned upside down, leaving you feeling disoriented, angry, or depressed. But there is a way to take charge of your life and achieve better health and wellbeing—and that is through the art of storytelling.

Social science and emerging neurobiological research reveal that storytelling helps us heal, cope, and communicate, lifting our mood and regaining control of our life’s narrative. With practical, science-backed guidance and compelling, relatable human stories, The Healing Power of Story offers you an opportunity to improve your health and also deepen human connections that serve as the foundation of healing through engaging with and telling your story. At a time when the country is gripped by an epidemic of loneliness, bringing individuals, families, and communities together to share stories can help you not only rebuild your shattered identity but also bring welcome joy to others.

Annie Brewster, MD, is a Harvard-trained internist and urgent-care physician at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, and a patient living with multiple sclerosis. In 2013, she founded Health Story Collaborative (HSC), a nonprofit organization built on the principle, and supported by social science and emerging neurobiological research, that storytelling improves people’s health.

Rachel Zimmerman, an award-winning journalist, was a staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal for a decade and a healthcare reporter for WBUR, Boston’s NPR station. She cofounded WBUR’s CommonHealth blog, and cocreated and hosted The Checkup, a podcast sponsored by WBUR and Slate.