Poetry as Therapy: the Life of Anne Sexton (IN: Suicide and the Creative Arts, edited by S Stack & D Lester)

This chapter explores the value of having clients use their own poetry as a mean of working through psychological conflicts & distress. The life of Anne Sexton, an American poet, who died by suicide at the age of 45 is used as illustration. (20 refs.)

I Bask in Dreams of Suicide: Mental Illness, Poetry, and Women

The authors examine why poets – & especially female poets – have a documented tendency to suffer from mental illness. They posit that poetry may attract those with a predisposition toward illness, the domain of poetry may particularly reward those who exhibit illness, & unusual aspects of poetry writing may increase the likelihood of poets […]

The Roaring Boy (IN: Sudden Endings, by M J Meaker)


The Death of James Thomson (B.V.)

This article discusses the death of the poet James Thomson in 1882. Although it is known that Thomson spent the last weeks of his life on an alcoholic binge that culminated with his death of hemorrhage, speculation still abounds as to whether Thomson accidentally lost control of his drinking, or whether he drank himself to […]

The Last Days of Esenin

This article describes the last days of the life of Russian poet Sergei Esenin, leading up to his death by suicide. The author describes the deterioration of Esenin’s physical & mental health & looks to his poetry to shed light on his state of mind at the time.

Word use in the Poetry of Suicidal and Nonsuicidal Poets

This article aimed to determine whether distinctive features of language could be discerned in the poems of poets who committed suicide. 300 poems from the early, middle, & late periods of 9 suicidal poets (aged 30-58 years at death) & 9 nonsuicidal poets were compared. Language use within the poems was analyzed within the context […]

Differentiating Between Borderline and Narcissistic Personalities

This article presents the psychodynamic & developmental theories & processes underlying borderline & narcissistc personalities. Several theories are discussed & differential diagnosis of the many pathologies is stressed. A number of treatment techniques are reviewed, as are the roles of transference & countertransference in work with patients. To illustrate both borderline & narcissistic traits, the […]

Mayakovsky and his Time Imagery

The authors traces Mayakovsky’s poetic career by tracing the recurring theme of time in his poetry. In particular, the author focuses on Mayakovsky’s relationship with the future, which at first was confident, but which suffered a series of breaks in 1920s Communist Russia, & eventually culminated in his own suicide in 1930.

Romantic Professionalism in 1800: Robert Southey, Herbert Croft, and the Letters and Legacy of Thomas Chatterton

This article discusses the impact of writers Thomas Chatterton, who completed suicide in the late-eighteenth century, & Reverend Herbert Croft, an Anglican priest & man-of-letters, on the literary & political career of Robert Southey.

Love and Suicide Amor y Suicidio

This article is an English translation. The original Spanish text is also available.

Suicide Among Eminent Artists

Risk of suicide among elite artists was evaluated using data from Garzantiƕs Encyclopaedia. Artists were categorized as architects, painters, sculptors, writers, poets, & playwrights. Only deaths which occurred in the 1800s or 1900s were included. A total of 59 suicides were observed in the sample of 3,093 artists who died. The comparison by profession shows […]

Touched With Fire: Manic-Depressive Illness and the Artistic Temperament


Vulnerability Factors in Sylvia Plath’s Suicide

Using the conceptual framework of a developmental pathway, this study links together events in the life of Sylvia Plath, beginning with her father’s death when she was 8 years old & ending with her suicide at age 30. Unresolved grief for her father lead to a symbiotic attachment to her mother characterized by a compulsive […]

Sylvia Plath: a Protocol Analysis of her Last Poems

This article examines the last 6 months of Plath’s poety, revealing a suicidal malaise. Associating the results to the lives of Cesar Pavese & the case study of Natalie, a Terman-Shneidman subject of the intellectually gifted, the study shows a unity thema that facilitates the process of death. The poems reveal such themes as unbearable […]

Suicide and Creativity: the Case of Sylvia Plath

This article explores the idea that although much can be learned by viewing Sylvia Plath’s poetry as an expression of her thinking & affect, additional insights are afforded by reversing the typical direction of effect & by viewing Plath’s affect, & in particular her depression, as a result of her writing. This perspective is tied […]

Theories of Suicidal Behavior Applied to Sylvia Plath

The suicide of Sylvia Plath is examined from the perspectives of 15 theories of suicidal behaviour including: Adler, Beck, Binswanger, Freud, Henry & Short, Jung, Kelly, Leenaars, Lester, Maris, Menninger, Murray, Shneidman, Sullivan, & Zilboorg. Plath’s suicide is found to fit best with psychoanalytic & cognitive theories of suicide, in particular those of Aaron Beck, […]

The Treatment of Sylvia Plath

In this article, the authors draw on material available in Plath’s journals & literary work to formulate a treatment plan for her, were she to be seen by a contemporary therapist skilled in voice therapy. They focus on Plath’s inwardness, her preference for fantasy gratification, her self-denial, her addictive attachment to her mother & husband, […]

“This is not Death, it is Something Safer”: a Psychodynamic Approach to Sylvia Plath

Gerisch attempts to show that Plath’s life & work contain aspects that are relevant for a comprehensive understanding of female psychosexual development & female suicidality within the context of a male defined cultural order. Discussion on Plath’s mother-daughter relationship, identity dissociation, duplication/splitting of her female identity, and suicide as a synthesis of the true and […]

Two Approaches to Suicide Risk Estimation

Edgar Allan Poe: Why did he not Kill Himself?

This proceeding provides biographical information of Edgar Allen Poe. It discusses certain aspects of his life that may have put him at risk for suicide & the personal characteristics that may have deterred suicidal behaviours. The author concludes with an argument that Poe’s death could be construed as a semi-suicide. (SC)

On Suicide: Great Writers on the Ultimate Question

This edited volume contains selections on suicide by the following authors: Philip Lopate, Plato, Alfred Alvarez, Sylvia Plath, Walker Percy, Albert Camus, Howard Kushner, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes, Gustave Flaubert, Cynthia Ozick, Primo Levi, Graham Greene, Dorothy Parker, Emile Durkheim, Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, John Dunne, Jorge Luis Borges, Ambrose Bierce, Leo Tolstoy & William Styron.

Tulips (IN: On Suicide: Great Writers on the Ultimate Question, edited by J Miller)

Sylvia Plath, an American poet, committed suicide in 1963 at the age of 31. This poem, “Tulips”, is one of the last she wrote.

Sara Teasdale: Case Study of a Completed Suicide (IN: Now I lay me Down: Suicide in the Elderly, edited by D Lester & M Tallmer)

This chapter presents the case of Sara Teasdale, the American poet who died in 1933. Sara was never in psychiatric treatment & the case discussion considers how she might have fared today when treatment resources are more available. The chapter notes it is useful to examine individual cases of suicide in detail in order to […]