The influence of dynamic psychiatry on Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

  • Lauren Moffat

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This study is anattempt to redress the historical misapplication of literary and culturaltheory in reading the psychiatric material of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night. Critics have applied several, sometimescontradictory, theoretical lenses to the text. As a result, the text has beencharacterised either as ignorant of psychiatry or in league with the so-calledautocratic and “unscientific” basis of its practices. Often, it is regarded arevenge project aimed at his wife, Zelda Sayre Fitzgerald (herself apsychiatric patient periodically between 1930 and 1948). 

Medicine’s rediscovery of the humanisticdimensions of its practice during the past thirty years provides a usefulframework that Tender criticism can use to break the cycle of restatement oftired and misapplied theoretical premises from a by-gone era ofanti-psychiatry, psychoanalytic theory, and second-wave feminism. Such atext-centric framework allows one to turn both to the history of psychiatry andthe personal history of the Fitzgeralds’ interactions with psychodynamicpsychiatry by way of the archive. It creates a clearer picture of what theauthor intended for the text, and how it reflects a time in his life in whichthe author had exceptionally close contact with the foremost psychiatricclinics and psychiatrists in the world.

Thesis embargoed until 31 December 2024.

Date of AwardDec 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SupervisorPhilip McGowan (Supervisor) & Francis O'Neill (Supervisor)


  • F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Tender Is the Night
  • psychiatry
  • Zelda Fitzgerald

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