November 23, 2010

Writing As Therapy ...But In The Right Place from The Kitchen Dispatch

The Kitchen Dispatch: Writing As Therapy ...But In The Right Place
- It's a long way back from Iraq. Charles Whittington, age 24, experienced 3 roadside explosions and the loss of his finger. After his discharge he was lost in a haze of pain, emotional trauma and confusion before finding a place to catch his breath at a community college near Baltimore in Catonsville. But, life as a student has not come without problems. Whittington wrote a graphic article about war, and what he called an addiction to killing. It is a vivid essay. With the encouragement of his professor, he queried the campus newspaper to publish it. They did. Now he is banished from campus until he comes back with a psych evaluation. While it could have been influenced on a presumptive view of veterans as trouble, the college also had in mind the fruitless efforts of the professors at Virginia Tech.

However, there's no comparison between the asocial Cho-Seung Hui, who had a lifetime history of mental illness. Charles Whittington appears not to have had any of Hui's mental illnesses. Rather, Whittington's mental health issue seems to be the result of his experience in combat. While his writing grows darker as he leans into the topic matter, it's clear he was actively working out issues on the page.

From my experience, much of what people write is either consciously or sub-consciously written for therapeutic reasons. Writing can be very useful in helping a person reflect and organize their thoughts. This is what Whittington was doing on the page.
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