Start ‘Free Writing’

By on February 22nd, 2017


Have you ever had negative thoughts? Of course you have. It is a normal part of the human experience, but some people are better at hiding them than others. If you experience anxiety-producing thoughts, they become stronger over time, and if you try to suppress them they become much worse. When you’re in chronic pain, your brain lays down PAIN pathways in a way that’s similar to what it does when you learn how to ride a bicycle. These neurological circuits result in hard-wired negative thinking when you experience pain. These negative circuits result in deep suffering, and there’s always a price to pay if you try to control them. The only effective way to deal with these “negative” thoughts is to DETACH from them. It is remarkable how effective writing is in slowing down whirlpools of obsessive thoughts.

Free Writing is a technique described by Dr. Hanscom in his book, ‘Back in Control’. Free Writing is used to DETACH from negative thoughts by simply writing down your negative thoughts and then immediately destroying the piece of paper. This process transfers your feelings to the paper with vision and touch. Discarding the paper allows you to detach from those feelings with complete freedom. With repetition this separation becomes your new reality. The more “despicable and bizarre” the thoughts you can release by writing them down are, the more effective the process, as those are the thoughts that require the most emotional energy to suppress. It is remarkable how effective writing is in slowing down whirlpools of obsessive thoughts. And just remember, this exercise is not about recording your thoughts; it’s about letting them go. If you feel the urge to capture your thoughts by keeping the writings, remember that the point of this method is to detach from what’s in your mind, NOT CONTROL IT.

A few pointers for the writing exercises:
** Write in a free-flow format once or twice a day for fifteen to thirty minutes per session.
** Don’t just write about the thoughts; write down your actual thoughts. The darker the thoughts, the more effective the process, since they’re the ones that take the most unconscious energy to contain.
** Handwrite. Research has shown that a large part of the brain is activated when you write on paper.
** Do not try to “journal” or keep these writings; it is counter-productive. Also, note that writing down positive alternatives is a different type of exercise.

Reference: Hanscom, D. (2012). Back in Control. Seattle, WA: Vertus Press.



Kamshad Raiszadeh, M.D.

Dr. Raiszadeh's completed medical school at UC San Francisco, orthopedic surgery residency at UC Davis and his Pediatric and Adult Spine Fellowship at the Hospital for Joint Diseases/NYU in New York City. He has 20 years of experience with the broad range of spine surgery including minimally invasive surgery, complex spinal disorders such as scoliosis and kyphosis, and cervical spine disorders. During this 20 years he has noticed a dramatic increase in patients turning to surgery for treatment of neck and low back pain, but many of them not getting their desired long-term result. He therefore became increasingly interested in improvement and standardization of non-operative treatment. By developing the best aspects of non-operative treatment in an atmosphere of empowerment to maximize the body’s own healing capacity, he noticed that many fewer patients required surgery, and the ones who underwent surgery had much better long term results.

Subscribe here to receive an e-mail every time a new post is published in the blog