Psychoanalytic criticism has often relied on pathography in order to cast women writers such as Sylvia Plath as "crazed" authors who "suffered" from mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and depression. The critics have used and appropriated these authors' impairments in order to explain their writing abilities and productivity, arguing that their works were only possible through their mental differences. Particularly in Plath's case, critics have psychoanalyzed her works using diagnostic language, pathologizing her using the language of the medical model of disability. The article argues that these readings are driven by patriarchal norms and institutions and are a product of an attempt to control and diminish the voices of disabled women. Using a framework of feminist disability studies articulated as madwoman theory, the argument is that scholars of literature should refrain from using diagnostic terminology to describe fictitious characters and their real-life authors. The article interrogates ableist readings of Sylvia Plath and negotiates a madwoman theory analysis of her works, including The Bell Jar and the bee poems in Ariel. A madwoman theory analysis privileges the voices of disabled women writers over critics' ableist readings. Further, the article argues that analyzing writing about lived experiences with disability enables a future in which the voices of disabled women are privileged over these diagnostic categories.


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pp. 317-332
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