Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Sylvia Plath Effect

I'm rereading The Bell Jar, so read the Plath entry on Wikipedia. I found there exists such a thing as 'the Sylvia Plath Effect'.

'The Sylvia Plath effect is a term coined by psychologist James C. Kaufman in 2001 to refer to the phenomenon that creative writers are more susceptible to mental illness. Kaufman's work demonstrated that female poets were more likely to suffer from mental illness than any other class of writers. This finding has been discussed in many international newspapers, including the New York Times. The finding is consistent with other psychological research studies.

The effect is named after the American poet Sylvia Plath, who committed suicide when she was thirty years old.'

How extraordinary. I find it quite difficult to believe this to be true. I wonder what Dorothy Porter would have made of it. Or Pam Ayres.

Apparently Sylvia had an IQ of 166. That makes her a genius. I suspect that might be more of an obstacle to happiness than being a female poet. I'd like to see the research on that.

1 comment:

Motherhugger said...

I played Celebrity Head with my 8 year old yesterday. The person she chose for me was Sylvia Plath.