Abstract

Following the release of Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of The Great Gatsby in 2013, interest in Zelda Fitzgerald reached its most recent peak. Out of this interest a curious cultural phenomenon that one might call “bipolar Zelda” emerged, challenging Zelda Fitzgerald’s historical schizophrenia diagnosis. This article traces the origins of “bipolar Zelda” and evaluates the strategies, motivations, and outcomes behind the phenomenon and its place within a much longer-running project to rescue Zelda from her diagnosis. Illuminating the “bipolar Zelda” phenomenon from a medical perspective demonstrates the problems and constraints of “retro-diagnosis” as well as the particularly erroneous representation of schizophrenia in film and literature that stands behind a problematic desire to disassociate Zelda with that condition. It is, therefore, time that scholars reconsider the wisdom of continuing to challenge Zelda’s historical diagnosis as it constitutes harm not only to her legacy but also to mentally ill individuals in the present.

You do not currently have access to this content.