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The Arts and Medicine
September 19, 2017

Holding the Self and the World Together: Robert Lowell, Mania, and Having to Write

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Washington, Seattle
JAMA. 2017;318(11):988-989. doi:10.1001/jama.2017.12823

Robert Lowell was one of the 20th century’s most important poets. He carved out the poetic dimension we call “confessional” and created poetry that beautifully braids the personal and the historical. He was also severely manic-depressive.

In a masterful new life study, Kay Redfield Jamison, acclaimed for her writings on manic-depressive illness and its ramifications in the arts, renders inescapable the evidence that Lowell’s towering poetic output was intrinsically dependent on his fiery mental disturbance.1,2

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