The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of "writer's block"

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The unsuccessful self-treatment of a case of "writer's block" is a humorous academic article by psychologist Dennis Upper about writer's block. It contains no content outside title and journal formatting elements, including a humorous footnote. Published in 1974 in a peer reviewed journal, Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, it is recognized as the shortest academic article ever[1] and a classic example of humour in science,[2] or at the very least among behavioral psychologists.[3] It has been cited at least 60 times.[4]

The article received a humorous positive review which was published alongside the article.[1]

The article has led to at least three similarly humorous and peer-reviewed, published replication studies,[5][6][7] and several similar papers.[8][9][10][11]

More seriously, the paper is said to be a case reinforcing the image of a writer's block as a "blank page",[12] and encouraging brevity in writing.[13] It has been also used as an example that humor can indeed be found in academic publishing.[14]


  1. ^ a b "The Shortest Science Paper Ever Published Had No Words, and Was Utterly Brilliant - RealClearScience". Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  2. ^ "Humor in Science (Episode 1: Writer's Block) - arno simons". arno simons. Archived from the original on 6 October 2014. Retrieved 6 October 2014.
  3. ^ Bassett, John E. (2010). "Perspectives in Behavior Therapy (Book)". Journal of Personality Assessment. 43 (1): 105–105. doi:10.1207/s15327752jpa4301_20.
  4. ^ "Google Scholar".
  5. ^ Molloy, Geoffery N. (1983). "THE UNSUCCESSFUL SELF-TREATMENT OF A CASE OF "WRITER'S BLOCK": A REPLICATION". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 57 (2): 566–566. doi:10.2466/pms.1983.57.2.566.
  6. ^ Didden, Robert; Sigafoos, Jeff; O'Reilly, Mark F; Lancioni, Giulio E; Sturmey, Peter; LeBlanc, Linda (2007). "A Multisite Cross-Cultural Replication of Upper's (1974) Unsuccessful Self-Treatment of Writer's Block". Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 40 (4): 773–773. doi:10.1901/jaba.2007.773. PMC 2078566.
  7. ^ HERMANN, BRUCE P. (2016). "UNSUCCESSFUL SELF-TREATMENT OF A CASE OF 'WRITER'S BLOCK': A PARTIAL FAILURE TO REPLICATE". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 58 (2): 350–350. doi:10.2466/pms.1984.58.2.350.
  8. ^ Mclean, Derrick C.; Thomas, Benjamin R. (2014). "UNSUCCESSFUL TREATMENTS OF "WRITER'S BLOCK": A META-ANALYSIS". Psychological Reports. 115 (1): 276–278. doi:10.2466/28.PR0.115c12z0.
  9. ^ SKINNER, NICHOLAS F.; PERLINI, ARTHUR H. (2016). "THE UNSUCCESSFUL GROUP TREATMENT OF 'WRITER'S BLOCK': A TEN-YEAR FOLLOW-UP". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 82 (1): 138–138. doi:10.2466/pms.1996.82.1.138.
  10. ^ SKINNER, NICHOLAS F.; PERLINI, ARTHUR H.; FRIC, LAWRENCE; WERSTINE, E. PAUL; CALLA, JAMES (2016). "THE UNSUCCESSFUL GROUP-TREATMENT OF "WRITER'S BLOCK"". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 61 (1): 298–298. doi:10.2466/pms.1985.61.1.298.
  11. ^ OLSON, KENNETH R. (2016). "UNSUCCESSFUL SELF-TREATMENT OF 'WRITER'S BLOCK': A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE". Perceptual and Motor Skills. 59 (1): 158–158. doi:10.2466/pms.1984.59.1.158.
  12. ^ Geoffrey Vincent Carter (2007). Rereading and Rewriting Bloc/ks: Teaching Multi-modal Literacies Through an Apprenticeship in Proper Names. ProQuest. p. 3. ISBN 978-0-549-30355-8.
  13. ^ Stephen P. Glasser (2014). Essentials of Clinical Research. Springer. pp. 415–416. ISBN 978-3-319-05470-4.
  14. ^ William F. Fry; Waleed A. Salameh (December 1987). Handbook of humor and psychotherapy: advances in the clinical use of humor. Professional Resource Exchange. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-943158-19-8.

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