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The Journals of Sylvia Plath

L. D. Hankoff, MD
JAMA. 1982;248(19):2525. doi:10.1001/jama.1982.03330190071041.
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Sylvia Plath (1932-1963) left her mark as a poet who captured the disturbing imagery of her own time. In her diaries as well as her poetic and prose works are the anguished expressions of her periods of deep depression and the presages of her suicide. At age 30, when she committed suicide, she was at the height of her career and had just completed to her own great satisfaction an outstanding book of poetry, Ariel. She had been troubled by depression from her teens on with a suicide attempt at age 20, followed by a psychiatric hospitalization, electroconvulsive and insulin therapies, and several years of psychotherapy.

Her suicide attempt on Aug 24, 1953, and psychiatric treatment are a basis for much of the content of The Bell Jar, a thinly fictionalized autobiographical novel. Her suicidal ruminations before the attempt, quite explicit in the journal entries, were apparently unnoticed even by


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