Why doesn't the writing cure help poets?

James C. Kaufman, Janel D. Sexton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


This paper examines the literature on creative writing and mental illness and relates it to the "writing cure" research that shows that expressive writing improves health. There is an abundance of evidence that professional poets have poorer health outcomes relative to both other writers and to the population at large. Why doesn't the writing cure help them? The formation of a narrative, an element often missing in poetry, may provide the answer. Other possible explanations are that poets may be more depressed to begin with and may be even worse off if they did not write. For female poets, they may be subject to stereotypic expectations about writing themes, which may put them at further risk. Those seeking improvements in health through writing are advised to adopt a narrative style.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-282
Number of pages15
JournalReview of General Psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Creative writing
  • Creativity
  • Expressive writing
  • Mental health
  • Mental illness
  • Narrative
  • Poets
  • Writing cure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Why doesn't the writing cure help poets?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this