Home > Research > Publications & Outputs > Deep into that Darkness Peering

Electronic data

  • Dean & Boyd (2020) - A computational analysis of the role of depression in Edgar Allan Poe's life and death

    Rights statement: This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Affective Disorders. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Affective Disorders, 266, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.098

    Accepted author manuscript, 2.04 MB, PDF document

    Embargo ends: 21/01/21

    Available under license: CC BY-NC-ND: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License

Links

Text available via DOI:

View graph of relations

Deep into that Darkness Peering: A Computational Analysis of the Role of Depression in Edgar Allan Poe's Life and Death

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/04/2020
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Affective Disorders
Volume266
Number of pages10
Pages (from-to)482-491
Publication statusPublished
Early online date21/01/20
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Background: To help shed light on the peculiar circumstances surrounding the death of the famed macabre and mystery writer, poet, editor, and literary critic, we explored the potential role of depression in the life and death of Edgar Allan Poe via his written language. Method: Using computerized language analysis, we analyzed works from Poe’s corpora of personal letters (N = 309), poems (N = 49), and short stories (N = 63), and investigated whether a pattern of linguistic cues consistent with depression and suicidal cognition were discernible throughout the writer’s life, particularly in his final years. Building on past work, language scores were collapsed into a composite depression metric for each text. Data from each work type was subsequently compiled and graphed into a single plot by year, with scores exceeding the 95th percentile (p <.05) considered statistically significant and treated as potential depressive episodes. Results: Significant, consistent patterns of depression were not found and do not support suicide as a cause of death. However, linguistic evidence was found suggesting the presence of several potential depressive episodes over the course of Poe’s life – these episodes were the most pronounced during years of Poe’s greatest success, as well as those following the death of his late wife. Limitations: Given the sampling method, it is not possible to establish direct causality; results should be considered informed but tentative. Conclusion: This investigation demonstrates the utility of language analysis for capturing disruptive/maladaptive emotional responses to life events.

Bibliographic note

This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Affective Disorders. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Affective Disorders, 266, 2020 DOI: 10.1016/j.jad.2020.01.098