March 26th, 2012
Dawn Skorczewski, Associate Professor of English, was interviewed in the Boston Globe this week about her new book An Accident of Hope: The Therapy Tapes of Anne Sexton. The book explores the material Anne Sexton recorded during her last six months of therapy with Boston psychiatrist Martin Orne and connects the subjects of Sexton’s therapy to the poems she was writing at the time. Skorczewski, who received special access to the archive, is only the second person to write about the tapes; in 1991, Diane Middlebrook published her ground-breaking biography of Sexton amid cries that her research was breaching doctor-patient confidentiality. Professor Skorczewski addresses these and other concerns in her interview with the Globe‘s Ruth Graham:
IDEAS: Did you feel conflicted about using tapes of a patient talking to her therapist?
SKORCZEWSKI: I heard Sexton say to Orne several times, “I hope that somebody can use this one day,” or “I hope this can be useful,” about the tapes. So she clearly had the idea that if her personal pain, as it was articulated on the tapes, and also her work with her therapist could be helpful to patients or clinicians, that would make her happy; that would feel good to her. And that conclusion corresponds exactly to what we know about Sexton, which is that her personal life was the raw material of her poetry.
An Accident of Hope: The Therapy Tapes of Anne Sexton is available on Amazon, and can also be ordered through local bookshops like Porter Square Books. More information about Dawn Skorczewski is available in the faculty directory.