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I will challenge this statement because I think it’s important, here in this writers forum, to address this view.

I think it is valid in some cases. I have seen people get stuck on their past being their identity forevermore.

In other cases, I believe expressing trauma and its kin through art is cathartic, enabling the artist to diminish the power of an experience formerly held in. It certainly works that way for me.

I find creating a piece about a “negative” experience gives me the opportunity to feel and process emotions I shut away, thereby cleansing them from my psychic storehouse. Although I may relive/reexperience the event in the process of creation, I experience it in a context where I am in the drivers seat, so it is different.

There was a study I read in the NYT (Science Section, I think) some time ago about listeners’ experiencing emotional content through music and how, being a second hand experience, it was processed differently than a personal emotion, a kind of vicarious emotional experience. But this, nevertheless, allowed them to experience a range of emotions in a way that was healthy for them. (No time now to find the link. Apologies.)

Perhaps this is why I love singing along with songs that, while in no way “positive,” evoke expressions of common experiences and emotions.

For example, I find it empowering to shout lyrics that express things I would never say to someone’s face. It gets the emotions out of my system, freeing me up to make decisions on how to proceed.

Personally, to forgive, I think it’s important to get clarity about what happened in the first place.

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