Abstract

Originally presented as a plenary session at the 15th International F. Scott Fitzgerald Conference on 27 June 2019 in Toulouse, France, this collaborative essay offers two complementary approaches to understanding how Zelda Fitzgerald coped with her 1930 diagnosis as a schizophrenic at the hands of Dr. Oscar Forel at Les Rives de Prangins in Nyon, Switzerland. According to Kendall Taylor—the author of two Fitzgerald biographies, Sometimes Madness is Wisdom: Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald: A Marriage (2001) and The Gatsby Affair: Scott, Zelda, and the Betrayal that Shaped an American Classic (2018)—letter writing offered the reluctant patient an outlet for constructing her own narrative understanding of her mental health. In response, psychotherapist Barry Mason, the former director of the Institute of Family Therapy in London and an expert in family and systemic psychotherapy as well as in the supervision of clinical practices, applies models from the field to the Fitzgeralds’ marriage to explain their miscommunication. Together, the approaches offer a fresh perspective on the Fitzgerald family dynamic and Zelda’s struggle to “author” her treatment at the hands of the psychoanalysis industry of the 1930s.

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