Creativity vs. Psychological Health of Anne Sexton

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A number of creative individuals have taken their own lives, including John Steinbeck, Ernest Hemingway, Sylvia Plath, and many other writers. The large number of such cases suggests that there may be a functional relationship between creativity and psychological health. This relationship seems to vary across domains, with the rate of suicide especially high in certain groups of artists. This may suggest that there may be something unique to those domains that either draws suicide-prone persons into the domain or has an impact on the individual such that suicide is considered and often attempted. When the poem writing by Anne Sexton entitled Her Kind you can closely compare how Anne’s mental health affected her poetry and how her poetry affected her mental health. The American Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Anne Sexton took her own life in 1974 via carbon monoxide poisoning before reaching the age of fifty. Her life and work are especially interesting because her poetry was clearly tied to her own psychiatric treatment. She began writing with only moderate formal education (a high school diploma), but after being published she was given honorary degrees from several universities, including Tufts, Radcliffe, and Harvard. Sexton's poems, many dealing with suicide, read together with richly researched recent biography, enhanced by biographer's access to tapes of Sexton's sessions with her psychiatrist and by foreword by that psychiatrist, permit unusual opportunity to understand the interrelationship of her illness, her treatment, and the meaning of suicide in her life. Whatever was on her mind seemed to come out in her poetry whether it was about sex, madness or death. “Readers tend to be generous in their praise, celebrating the poetry primarily because it so fully and openly reveals Sexton's personal pain” (Anne). Basically, the speaker of "Her Kind" is outcast because she is powerful. Traditionally, society expects women to lead sheltered lives. Women are to be...
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