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The Sylvia Plath effect is a term coined by psychologist James C. Kaufman in 2001 to refer to the phenomenon that creative writers are more susceptible to mental illness. Kaufman's work demonstrated that female poets were more likely to suffer from mental disorders than any other class of writers.[1] This finding has been discussed in many international newspapers, including the New York Times.[2] The finding is consistent with other psychological research studies. [3]

The effect is named after the American poet Sylvia Plath.


  1. Kaufman, J. C. (2001). The Sylvia Plath effect: Mental illness in eminent creative writers. Journal of Creative Behavior, 35 (1), 37-50
  2. Lee, F. R. (April 24, 2004). Going early into that good night. New York Times, Arts p, 1, 4.
  3. Ludwig, A. M. (1995). The price of greatness. New York: Guilford Press.
  • Kaufman, J. C. (2001). "The Sylvia Plath effect: Mental illness in eminent creative writers." The Journal of Creative Behavior, 35(1).

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