Robert Frost's fight against depression and insanity has not been widely known or understood. None of the many accounts of Frost's life written before 1966 accurately portray the poet as the complex man he really was. Lawrence Thompson's three-volume biography, however, revealed Frost's life-long struggle against mental imbalance and made this study possible. Thompson's biography was used to develop Frost's psycho-biography, verify his precarious mental balance and establish a history of insanity in his family.
Scholars disagree about the relationship between art and neurosis, but there is adequate evidence to indicate that the exercise of creativity has a therapeutic effect for many artists. The personal benefits to poets can be divided into three categories~ First, writing poetry forces the poet to objectify his feelings and voice otherwise inexpressible emotions, thereby acting as a catharsis. Second, the creative process heightens the poet's sense of identity and feeling of being in harmony with the world. Third, the experience of developing the form of poetry (rhythm, rhyme, and pattern) comforts the poet and helps him order his life.
An examination of Frost's poetry, essays, lectures, letters, interviews and conversations, confirm that he used the creative process to maintain his sanity. His works indicate that he, too, realized the personal benefits of the creative process already described for artists.
Frost's admission that he was concerned about his mental health apparently was therapeutic for him. He was often tempted to isolate himself, but writing poetry gave him a sense of identity and helped him realize his community with mankind. His devotion to form is reflected in his following of traditional verse forms and his disdain for free verse, indicating his need for the staying influence of form in his life.
The form created in Frost's life by his practice of the creative process helped to preserve him by being "an arrest of disorder." He often spoke of trying to save his soul, and the creation of poetry played a significant role in his attempts to do so. As he wrote, he found meaning for his life and the control he needed to avoid insanity.
Llewellyn E. Foll
Vern R. Andress
Dorothy M. Comm
Marilyn C. Teele
Master of Arts (MA)
Year Degree Awarded
Date (Title Page)
Library of Congress/MESH Subject Headings
Frost; Robert; 1874-1963--Criticism and interpretation.
Loma Linda University Libraries
This title appears here courtesy of the author, who has granted Loma Linda University a limited, non-exclusive right to make this publication available to the public. The author retains all other copyrights.
Rick, Carole, "A Momentary Stay Against Confusion : Robert Frost's Use of the Creative Process" (1982). Loma Linda University Electronic Theses, Dissertations & Projects. 1012.
Loma Linda University Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Loma Linda University. Del E. Webb Memorial Library. University Archives