Irene: You should consult the biography you say you know. Berryman was killing himself with alcohol. He was being admitted, often by himself for alcohol poisoning. The doctors told him he would literally kill himself if he couldn't quit; so he resolved to quit, again and again. Read the bio you have and you'll discover the reasons he started again. He was in some really good conversations. He was having a good time. He needed to celebrate. In no case in either bio I read did he drink because of alleged pain. While he was in the throes of writing Dream Songs he had a routine and drinking was part of it. He believed he was doing something important, something that would put him on the top, a coherent set of Dream Songs written with one voice and interrelated. Besides, it isn't my argument. It is what Berryman thought. It is what his biographers thought. It is what my father thought (he was born the same year as Berryman), and it is what I was taught as I grew up. When I developed an interest in writing I hung out with a similar group of writers and we all drank because that is what writers did. That was our one-size-fits-all psychiatry. But I trusted my own experience over that belief and eventually gave it up. Drinkers don't hang out with non-drinkers so I lost touch with them. As to your one-size-fits-all psychology, I suspect the record of psychiatric success would be about the same as it would be if anyone was listened to by an intelligent sympathetic ear. But who is going to perform such a test? They used to prescribe your one-size-fits-all psychiatry for Manic Depression, but if that were done today it would be considered malpractice. This is per Kay Jamison Redfield who coauthored the authoritative text on Manic Depression. Berryman's, Robert Lowell's, Delmore Schwartz experiences with psychiatrists was like that of Tony Sopranos and that of virtually everyone else who has spent time in therapy. As to the unconscious, read Wittgenstein Reads Freud, The Myth of the Unconscious, by Jacques Bouveresse. Lawrence _____ From: lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx [mailto:lit-ideas-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Andy Amago Sent: Wednesday, October 11, 2006 10:29 AM To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72 I discovered that I was an aberration, that is, I could write better sober. But none of drank to numb his pain. You destroy your whole arugment in that line. Just why did Berryman drink and why did he kill himself when he stopped drinking?