The Swiss Sanatorium Essay

958 words - 4 pages

I. Summary
“[The] Swiss Sanatorium Society is a fabrication, and its very foundations have compromised its goodness,” Linda De Roche argues in her article explaining the false ideas behind the sanatoriums that the character Nicole Diver, from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender Is the Night” and Zelda Sayre, Fitzgerald’s wife, experienced during their rehabilitation (De Roche 50). The article makes connections to the false concepts that the public received about the mentioned sanatoriums in Switzerland. Sanatoriums, as researched by De Roche, created an atmosphere for mentally ill patients without subjecting them to mental asylums, which acquired a terrible reputation of pain and treatments that resembled torture. As a result, technological advances produced the “extension of the railway” and a tide of “health tourists” that flooded Switzerland, which “primed [the country] to become the world’s sanatorium” (De Roche 52). The author explains that Switzerland, aided by the industrial age, becomes an ideal residence for people who sought a place that epitomized a healthy atmosphere. People from all over the world may enjoy the health benefits that the Swiss sanatoriums provided; however, only a small group of people could afford these health clinics.
De Roche uses the history of the Swiss sanatorium to explain how it became a tool of financial gain for physicians and a disillusioned haven for patients as illustrated in “Tender Is the Night.” Between the end of the ninetieth and beginning of the twentieth centuries Switzerland experiences two major “cultural developments: the rise of tourism and advances in psychiatry” which aid in the ushering of many tourists seeking a place that promised health, safety, and above all, peace (De Roche 50-51). The wealthy needed their privacy, which was something they could purchase from these sanatoriums. The “Swiss sanatorium society” is, as De Roche states, a “... safe haven to those seeking to avoid conflict, thus it became a preferred destination … [other than] a clinic.” De Roche shows how a country such as Switzerland has a façade that resembles a health resort when, in reality, it was still a place that also held mental health clinics.
II. Response
As elaborated by De Roche, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s semi-autobiographical novel shares the same historical context of sanatoriums in Switzerland. However, De Roche’s article would have benefited from more evidence regarding Nicole’s treatment during her stay at a sanatorium in Zürich. For example, in book two, Dick Diver and Dr. Dohmler discuss Nicole’s progress; in their conversation Dick responds to a question regarding Nicole’s letters. Dick’s answer shows how (as a doctor) he patronizes Nicole, telling her to “[b]e a good girl and mind the doctors” (Fitzgerald 130). He uses this phrase in numerous letters to Nicole and takes on a...

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