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Poetry as Healer: Mending the Troubled Mind

Thomas H. Lewis, MD
JAMA. 1986;255(9):1202-1203. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370090128041.
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Can poetry really "mend the troubled mind"? Is every man a poetaster? Does the hospital and clinic need to budget for a designated poet-therapist?

The chapters in this book are reprinted from Poetry Therapy (1969) and Poetry the Healer (1975), both from JB Lippincott, New York. The editor's introduction defines poetry as a "royal road to the unconscious." "Like medications, poems are now used as tranquilizers, anti-depressants, sedatives, and hypnotics." Further, "poetry is a secret power and an untapped national resource for healing [and] is a guide to the hidden mind and to more creative and enriching life." Once one has thus defined poetry, the next step is to erect national organizations, training programs, and certification procedures for graduated poetry therapists. The tedious question of whether there is such a thing as poetry therapy can be ignored by the enthusiast.

The 21 chapters of the book are of distinctly uneven


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