Poets & Madness

robert lowell    Robert Lowell

“Lowell could not control his illness with the power of his will or understanding. When he was prescribed lithium in his fiftieth year, he was given a new medical explanation: “All the psychiatry and therapy I’ve had, almost 19 years, was as irrelevant as it would have been for a broken leg.  Well some of it was interesting, tho most was jargon.”  Lithium treatment relieved him from suffering the idea that he was morally and emotionally responsible for the fact that he relapsed.  However, it did not entirely prevent relapses.  And whether his symproms were meaningless , whether it was true that ” ‘Where you are going Professor,/ you won’t need your Dante,’ ” was a harder question to answer.*  He did not stop trying to find language for the experience of being terribly drawn from himself.  And he was troubled and anxious about the impact of his relapses on his family and friends until the end of his life.”
* “Visitors,” Day by Day (1977) 
The Letters of Robert Lowell
ed. Saskia Hamilton Faber & Faber (2005) p xvii

One thought on “Poets & Madness

  1. It’s an interesting idea that you can control your own mental illness through your own thoughts or will. Most psychiatrists today are against this and I must say I am too as there are many positive people out there who become ill or develop low mood symptoms through no choice of their own.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s