On this day…28 September

On 28 September 1934 Lucia Joyce entered the sanatorium at Küsnacht.

Ever since May 1932, when Lucia had been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Joyce had been searching frantically for a cure or treatment for her while at the same time denying that there was anything really wrong with her.

At Joyce’s birthday celebrations in February 1934 Lucia threw a chair at Nora, and was taken back to the sanatorium of Dr Otto Forel at Nyon. When Joyce visited her there in September 1934 he was distressed at the condition in which he found her and decided to move her out – this despite the fact that in her last days there she set fire to the tablecloth in her room.

On 20 September she was moved to the Burghölzli clinic of Dr Maier, and a couple of days later was seen by Dr Otto Naegeli, a blood expert, who was to deal with a high white blood cell count and a concern that she might have syphilis. Then on 28 September she was moved to the sanatorium at Küsnacht where Jung was on the staff.

Jung engaged an American woman as a companion for Lucia while she was at Küsnacht. Cary Baynes was almost as old as Joyce himself. A graduate of Vassar with an MD from Johns Hopkins University, she had come to Zurich in 1920 to study under Jung. Acting as Lucia’s companion, she took Lucia to the theatre, to restaurants, for walks and on automobile rides around Zurich, all the time observing Lucia’s speech and actions to report back to Jung.

Joyce was sceptical about Jung’s ability to help Lucia, but he told Carola Giedion-Welcker: ‘my daughter is not myself. I wouldn’t go to him, but maybe he can help her.’ He was worried by Jung’s analysis of poems Lucia had written in the 1920s which Jung saw as being symptomatic of her disordered language and which Joyce saw as being linguistic and literary experiments. Despite this, Joyce’s confidence in Jung grew as the therapy continued, and writing to his son Giorgio in October he said that Jung had made a great impression on him.

For Jung, however, Joyce was part of the problem. Jung needed Lucia to come to rely on and trust him, in order to get the therapy going. But for as long as Joyce was around, Lucia resisted Jung’s attempts to gain her confidence. Though Jung explained that the separation was necessary, Joyce was still concerned about the state he’d found Lucia in at Nyon, and he and Nora remained in Zurich all the time she was at Küsnacht.

After less than four months Jung realised he could not develop a therapeutic relationship with Lucia and he allowed Joyce to remove her from the clinic in January 1935.


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. III edited by Richard Ellmann, London: Faber & Faber, 1966.

Norburn, Roger: A James Joyce Chronology, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.

Shloss, Carol Loeb: Lucia Joyce – To Dance in the Wake, New York: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux, 2003.