Girl, Interrupted
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Girl, Interrupted

4.3 199
by Susanna Kaysen
     
 

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In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its

Overview

In 1967, after a session with a psychiatrist she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years in the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital as renowned for its famous clientele—Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles—as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its sanctuary.

Kaysen's memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perception while providing vivid portraits of her fellow patients and their keepers. It is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. Girl, Interrupted is a clear-sighted, unflinching document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of sane and insane, mental illness and recovery.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Poignant, honest and triumphantly funny. . . [a] compelling and heartbreaking story." --Susan Cheever, The New York Times Book Review

"Tough-minded . . . darkly comic . . . written with indelible clarity."--Newsweek

"[A]n account of a disturbed girl's unwilling passage into womanhood...and here is the girl, looking into our faces with urgent eyes."--Diane Middlebrook, Washington Post Book World

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kaysen's startling account of her two-year stay at a Boston psychiatric hospital 25 years ago was an eight-week PW bestseller. (Apr.)
Library Journal
This is a powerful and moving account of the 17 months Kaysen spent on a ward for teenage girls at McLean Psychiatric Hospital. McLean was the hospital of choice for such famous patients as Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles. Kaysen, author of the novels Asa, As I Knew Him (Vintage Contemporaries: Random, 1987) and Far Afield (Vintage Contemporaries: Random, 1990), tells her story in a series of short chapters that capture the experience of madness. Her observations about the other young women patients are sharp and touched with a feeling of surrealism that pulls the reader into her world, where the line between sanity and madness becomes murky. As in other works about psychiatric hospitals, this book has its ``good guys'' and its ``bad guys,'' but the author is fairly even-handed in her treatment of both. Included between some of the chapters are copies of documents related to Kaysen's diagnosis and treatment. This is a well-written account of one woman's journey into madness and back. Recommended for general collections.-- Lisa J. Cochenet, Rhinelander Dist. Lib., Wis.
Kirkus Reviews
When Kaysen was 18, in 1967, she was admitted to McLean Psychiatric Hospital outside Boston, where she would spend the next 18 months. Now, 25 years and two novels (Far Afield, 1990; Asa, As I Knew Him, 1987) later, she has come to terms with the experience—as detailed in this searing account. First there was the suicide attempt, a halfhearted one because Kaysen made a phone call before popping the 50 aspirin, leaving enough time to pump out her stomach. The next year it was McLean, which she entered after one session with a bullying doctor, a total stranger. Still, she signed herself in: "Reality was getting too dense...all my integrity seemed to lie in saying No." In the series of snapshots that follows, Kaysen writes as lucidly about the dark jumble inside her head as she does about the hospital routines, the staff, the patients. Her stay didn't coincide with those of various celebrities (Ray Charles, Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell), but we are not likely to forget Susan, "thin and yellow," who wrapped everything in sight in toilet paper, or Daisy, whose passions were laxatives and chicken. The staff is equally memorable: "Our keepers. As for finders—well, we had to be our own finders." There was no way the therapists—those dispensers of dope (Thorazine, Stelazine, Mellaril, Librium, Valium)—might improve the patients' conditions: Recovery was in the lap of the gods ("I got better and Daisy didn't and I can't explain why"). When, all these years later, Kaysen reads her diagnosis ("Borderline Personality"), it means nothing when set alongside her descriptions of the "parallel universe" of the insane. It's an easy universe to enter, she assures us. Webelieve her. Every word counts in this brave, funny, moving reconstruction. For Kaysen, writing well has been the best revenge.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780679746041
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/28/1994
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
192
Sales rank:
25,962
Product dimensions:
7.98(w) x 5.08(h) x 0.51(d)
Lexile:
760L (what's this?)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

Read an Excerpt

Toward a Topography of the Parallel Universe

People ask, How did you get in there? What they really want to know is if they are likely to end up in there as well. I can't answer the real question. All I can tell them is, It's easy.

And it is easy to slip into a parallel universe. There are so many of them: worlds of the insane, the criminal, the cnp-pled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These worlds exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it.

My roommate Georgina came in swiftly and totally, dur-ing her junior year at Vassar. She was in a theater watching a movie when a tidal wave of blackness broke over her head. The entire world was obliterated--for a few minutes. She knew she had gone crazy. She looked around the theater to see if it had happened to everyone, but all the other people were engrossed in the movie. She rushed out, because the darkness in the theater was too much when combined with the darkness in her head.

And after that? I asked her.

A lot of darkness, she said.

But most people pass over incrementally, making a series of perforations in the membrane between here and there until an opening exists. And who can resist an opening?   In the parallel universe the laws of physics are suspended. What goes up does not necessarily come down1 a body at rest does not tend to stay at rest1 and not every action can be counted on to provoke an equal and opposite reaction. Time, too, is different. It may run in circles, flow backward, skip about from now to then. The very arrangement of molecules is fluid: Tables can be clocks; faces, flowers.

These are facts you find out later, though.

Another odd feature of the parallel universe is that al-though it is invisible from this side, once you are in it you can easily see the world you came from. Sometimes the world you came from looks huge and menacing, quivering like a vast pile of jelly1 at other times it is miniaturized and alluring, a-spin and shining in its orbit. Either way, it can't be discounted.

Every window on Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco.

The Taxi

"You have a pimple," said the doctor.

I'd hoped nobody would notice.

"You've been picking it," he went on.

When I'd woken that morning--early, so as to get to this appointment--the pimple had reached the stage of hard expectancy in which it begs to be picked. It was yearning for release. Freeing it from its little white dome, pressing until the blood ran, I felt a sense of accomplishment: I'd done all that could be done for this pimple.

"You've been picking at yourself," the doctor said.

I nodded. He was going to keep talking about it until I agreed with him, so I nodded.

"Have a boyfriend?" he asked.

I nodded to this too.

'Trouble with the boyfriend?" It wasn't a question, actu-ally1 he was already nodding for me. "Picking at yourself," he repeated. He popped out from behind his desk and lunged toward me. He was a taut fat man, tight-bellied and dark.

"You need a rest," he announced.

I did need a rest, particularly since I'd gotten up so early that morning in order to see this doctor, who lived out in the suburbs. I'd changed trains twice. And I would have to retrace my steps to get to my job. Just thinking of it made me tired.

"Don't you think?" He was still standing in front of me. "Don't you think you need a rest?

"Yes," I said.

He strode off to the adjacent room, where I could hear him talking on the phone.

I have thought often of the next ten minutes--my last ten minutes. I had the impulse, once, to get up and leave through the door I'd entered, to walk the several blocks to the trolley stop and wait for the train that would take me back to my troublesome boyfriend, my job at the kitchen store. But I was too tired.

He strutted back into the room, busy, pleased with himself.

"I've got a bed for you," he said. "It'll be a rest. Just for a couple of weeks, okay?" He sounded conciliatory, or plead-ing, and I was afraid.

"I'll go Friday," I said. It was Tuesday, maybe by Friday I wouldn't want to go.

He bore down on me with his belly. "No. You go now.

I thought this was unreasonable. "I have a lunch date," I said.

"Forget it," he said. "You aren't going to lunch. You're going to the hospital." He looked triumphant.

It was very quiet out in the suburbs before eight in the morning. And neither of us had anything more to say. I heard the taxi pulling up in the doctor's driveway.
He took me by the elbow--pinched me between his large stout fingers--and steered me outside. Keeping hold of my arm, he opened the back door of the taxi and pushed me in. His big head was in the backseat with me for a moment. Then he slammed the door shut.

The driver rolled his window down halfway.

"Where to?"

Coatless in the chilly morning, planted on his sturdy legs in his driveway, the doctor lifted one arm to point at me.

'Take her to McLean," he said, "and don't let her out till you get there."

I let my head fall back against the seat and shut my eyes. I was glad to be riding in a taxi instead of having to wait for the train.

Etiology

This person is (pick one):
1.        on a perilous journey from which we can learn much when he or she returns,
2.        possessed by (pick one):
a)        the gods,
b)        God (that is, a prophet),
c)        some bad spirits, demons, or devils,
d)        the Devil1
3.        a witch

Velocity vs. Viscosity

Insanity comes in two basic varieties: slow and fast.

I'm not talking about onset or duration. I mean the quality of the insanity, the day-to-day business of being nuts.

There are a lot of names: depression, catatonia, mania, anxiety, agitation. They don't tell you much.

The predominant quality of the slow form is viscosity.

Experience is thick. Perceptions are thickened and dulled. Time is slow, dripping slowly through the clogged filter of thickened perception. The body temperature is low. The pulse is sluggish. The immune system is half-asleep. The organism is torpid and brackish. Even the reflexes are di-minished, as if the lower leg couldn't be bothered to jerk itself out of its stupor when the knee is tapped.

Viscosity occurs on a cellular level. And so does velocity.

In contrast to viscosity's cellular coma, velocity endows every platelet and muscle fiber with a mind of its own, a means of knowing and commenting on its own behavior. There is too much perception, and beyond the plethora of perceptions, a plethora of thoughts about the perceptions and about the fact of having perceptions. Digestion could kill you! What I mean is the unceasing awareness of the processes of digestion could exhaust you to death. And digestion is just an involuntary sideline to thinking, which is where the real trouble begins.

Take a thought--anything1 it doesn't matter. I'm tired of sitting here in front of the nursing station: a perfectly rea-sonable thought. Here's what velocity does to it.

First, break down the sentence: I'm tired--well, are you really tired, exactly? Is that like sleepy? You have to check all your body parts for sleepiness, and while you're doing that, there's a bombardment of images of sleepiness, along these lines: head falling onto pillow, head hitting pillow, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, Little Nemo rubbing sleep from his eyes, a sea monster. Uh-oh, a sea monster. If you're lucky, you can avoid the sea monster and stick with sleep-iness. Back to the pillow, memories of having mumps at age five, sensation of swollen cheeks on pillows and pain on salivation--stop. Go back to sleepiness.

But the salivation notion is too alluring, and now there's an excursion into the mouth. You've been here before and it's bad. It's the tongue: Once you think of the tongue  it becomes an intrusion. Why is the tongue so large? Why is it scratchy on the sides? Is that a vitamin deficiency? Could you remove the tongue? Wouldn't your mouth be less both-ersome without it? There'd be more room in there. The tongue, now, every cell of the tongue, is enormous. It's a vast foreign object in your mouth.

Trying to diminish the size of your tongue, you focus your attention on its components: tip, smooth, back, bumpy, sides, scratchy, as noted earlier (vitamin defi-ciency), roots--trouble. There are roots to the tongue. You've seen them, and if you put your finger in your mouth you can feel them, but you can't feel them with the tongue. It's a paradox.

Paradox. The tortoise and the hare. Achilles and the what? The tortoise? The tendon? The tongue?
Back to tongue. While you weren't thinking of it, it got a little smaller. But thinking of it makes it big again. Why is it scratchy on the sides? Is that a vitamin deficiency? You've thought these thoughts already, but now these thoughts have been stuck onto your tongue. They adhere to the existence of your tongue.

All of that took less than a minute, and there's still the rest of the sentence to figure out. And all you wanted, really, was to decide whether or not to stand up.

Viscosity and velocity are opposites, yet they can look the same. Viscosity causes the stillness of disinclination, velocity causes the stillness of fascination. An observer can't tell if a person is silent and still because inner life has stalled or because inner life is transfixingly busy.

Something common to both is repetitive thought. Expe-riences seem prerecorded, stylized. Particular patterns of thought get attached to particular movements or activities, and before you know it, it's impossible to approach that movement or activity without dislodging an avalanche of prethought thoughts.

A lethargic avalanche of synthetic thought can take days to fall. Part of the mute paralysis of viscosity comes from knowing every detail of what's ahead and having to wait for its arrival. Here comes the I'm-no-good thought. That takes care of today. All day the insistent dripping of I'm no good. The next thought, the next day, is I'm the Angel of Death. This thought has a glittering expanse of panic behind it, which is unreachable. Viscosity flattens the effervescence of panic.

These thoughts have no meaning. They are idiot mantras that exist in a prearranged cycle: I'm no good, I'm the Angel of Death, I'm stupid, I can't do anything. Thinking the first thought triggers the whole circuit. It's like the flu: first a sore throat, then, inevitably, a stuffy nose and a cough.

Once, these thoughts must have had a meaning. They must have meant what they said. But repetition has blunted them. They have become background music, a Muzak med-ley of self-hatred themes.

Which is worse, overload or underload? Luckily, I never had to choose. One or the other would assert itself, rush or dribble through me, and pass on.

Pass on to where? Back into  my cells to lurk like a virus waiting for the next opportunity? Out into the ether of the world to wait for the circumstances that would provoke its reappearance? Endogenous or exogenous, nature or nur-ture--it's the great mystery of mental illness.

Meet the Author

Susanna Kaysen is also the author of the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Girl, Interrupted 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 199 reviews.
Awesomeness1 More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed the book even if I'm not all that sure about the message. This book was the true story of Susanna Kaysen who was committed to a mental hospital when she was 18. The chapters were short and crisp, and could most likely be read as short stories in themselves. The book was also interspersed with official forms documenting Kaysen's two year stay at McLean, which Kaysen only got the rights to many years after with the help of a lawyer. Kaysen kept her writing humorous and curt as she talked about the various patients, doctors, and incidents at the hospital. I liked these chapters, but got bored later on in the book after she left the hospital and began to describe the bounds of her illness. I'm a teenager myself, and my attention span is short. I enjoyed the book for its quirkiness and memorable characters, where others might like it for its comments on mental illness and the treatment of the mentally ill in the 60's.
EGorski More than 1 year ago
I read the previous reviews and yet forgot that the story was not written in a linear fashion. That minor shock aside "Girl, Interrupted" was an unexpected treasure. I found Susanna Kaysen's story hit home in a very quiet manner. While reading her story the emotional weight of the individual glimpses into her life, as well as her overall life experience didn't hit me until after I had put the book down. It was an interesting view into a disorder that many live with everyday. If you are looking for the book version of the popular movie "Girl, Interrupted" this really isn't the book for you. While many of the stories from the book are also in the movie; there are many situations that take place in the movie that were never in the book. However, if you want a provocative and compelling look into the life of someone with BPD then I highly recommend this book.
middleschoolbookworm More than 1 year ago
i could not put this book down. it put me into the mind of susanna kaysen and didnt put me back into the real world until i was done. she seems so normal so sane, she asks the same questions we all ask at some point in our lives but never say outloud, she thinks the same thing we do. she becomes a symbol of each and every human being. And this book made me ask the question: are we all insane? are we all just like susanna kaysen?
Angelb4u77 More than 1 year ago
There is much truth to be found in this memoir, but it is the kind of truth that some might find hard to hear and even harder to accept.  Susanna is (was) a young woman lost in a machine.  The machine is a business, first and foremost, with the secondary goal of aiding the mentally disturbed…no matter how many billable years recovery might take.  The cogs inside that machine, the doctors and analysts and nurses and orderlies, most of them are well-meaning souls with a duty to help their patients, but they operate under the confines of stuffy and impersonal hospital rules…and often times these very restrictions help to feed their patients’ madness.   As it is, Susanna looks around at the situation she’s signed herself into and asks many poignant questions—ones the doctors never think of.   Once you are stripped of your freedom and dignity, once you are branded (diagnosed) how do you find an identity that doesn’t involve what the people around you say you are?  How do you convince them (and yourself) that you are sane?  You swallow 50 aspirin to rid yourself not of life but of demons; you bang your wrists, unsure if you are real enough to have bones; the world around you is a pattern of constant and suffocating chaos, disjointed images that don’t match the reality in front of you…but even after all this you look at the patients around you, girls who pour gasoline and light themselves on fire, who hoard chicken carcasses under their bed, who scratch at the walls of their own sanity with fingernails that have been forcibly clipped—and you compare yourself to them and you think, surely, I am the sane one?  How did I end up in here?  Do I really belong in here?  Where are the lines between normal and crazy?  What does it mean to be borderline?   What does it mean to have your life interrupted?          With all these questions weighing heavy on Susanna, even 25 years after her release, she still finds the grace to approach the subject of mental illness with humor and sets the scene in the hospital with a reluctant nostalgia that speaks to the guilty comfort of knowing that no matter how bad things get, you are not the only one.    There is a subtext of bitterness between these pages, for sure, but by the end of the book it is understandable; mental illness is a difficult-to-shake stigma.  In the end, there comes a final sense of validation: though she’s been told that her ultimate goal of living a life of literature and love is an unrealistic and, frankly, crazy endeavor, the best-seller I am currently reviewing says otherwise.    Brave, witty, unexpected.  Girl, Interrupted offers an indulgent but honest glimpse into the complex industry that is mental illness.  I wish I would have read this memoir years ago.  Best Lines: “In a strange way we were free.  We’d reached the end of the line.  We had nothing more to lose.  Our privacy, our liberty, our dignity: All of this was gone and we were stripped down to the bare bones of our selves.” “Lunatics are similar to designated hitters.  Often an entire family is crazy, but since an entire family can’t go inside the hospital, one person is designated crazy and goes inside.” “Isn’t there some other way to look at this?  After all, angst of these dimensions is a luxury item.  You need to be well fed, clothed, and housed to have time for this much self-pity.” “The girl at her music sits in another sort of light, the fitful, overcast light of life, by which we see ourselves and others only imperfectly, and seldom.”
BettyMaddox More than 1 year ago
Yes, there have been others of this type- such as "I never promised you a rose garden" Or "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest". Maybe people's experiences in these places are sufficiently varied to be worth writing about. The characters in this one, particularly the protagonist, are quite attractive and interesting. Nice upbeat note that she got out and wrote the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was AMAZINGLY good. I had seen a part of the movie, and so I was interested in the book, but when I actually read it i was stunned. The incredible depth and insight in this book was astounding the content ends up in one of three categories most of the time: dialogue, description of a person/event, and philosophical ponderings, the nature of which inspire further thought by the reader. This book is a must-read!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This was a wonderful book. I highly recommend the book and the movie to anyone suffering similar problems. The movie does not stray far from the book. I have the same diagnosis as Susanna, so I could totally relate to her story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Having had the same experience as Susanna (although only staying at a mental hospital for 2 months in an outpatient program), I can relate to this book. It's incredibly well written, and it really pulls you into it. There's really nothing else to say except read it-you'll understand why I love it so.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Susanna is a great writer and obviously has an unusual story to tell. Since the circumstances of the story are so interesting, as a writer all Susanna needs to do is 'get out of the way' and I think she does this well. She has a terse writing style which I find appealing. Her character descriptions are first rate, and I think she has a subtle but keen sense of humor. She and Kay Jamison ('An Unquiet Mind') have written the finest mental illness memoirs available.
Anonymous 3 months ago
A good book dealing with mental illness.
Chancie 4 months ago
It's very short, and I do wish there had been more detail or development through most of it (it's very lacking), but it's brutally honest and raw, which I enjoyed. Characters are introduced quickly, and only some are easy to tell apart. It feels like an abridged version because of how fast it moves, but that aids itself to the overall mood, but it does leave the reader wanting more. The timeline doesn't come across very fluid, so by the end, it does feel messy.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a few hours. Interesting and entertaining.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the autobiography written by Susanna Kaysen, Girl, Interrupted, Susanna is admitted into a mental hospital after a brief doctor’s appointment which instantaneously turns her life around. Throughout the book she meets interesting friends ranging from all types of diagnoses like being sociopathic, depressed, having a mood disorder, or even being disfigured, her friends Lisa & Georgina falling in these categories. Lisa is the unofficial leader of Kaysen’s group (when she’s not trying to create a plan to escape) of friends, Georgina, Kaysen, and others falling behind her. The main conflict is internal because it resides within Kaysen and her dealing with her disorder, borderline personality disorder. As a result of this, she starts to scratch her wrist to make sure she has bones like everybody else. In the end, from this confusion, it helps her as a character and helps her in dealing with her disorder. Leading up to this, before scratching her wrists, Kaysen suddenly becomes troubled while in an ice cream parlor supervised by two nurses. As a result of this, she then furthers exploring her sanity and how people treat her because of her disorder, also discovering the challenges women face with day-to-day life. What I really liked about the book is the sincere honesty and humor it has within it. When Kaysen writes a scene, she is brutally realistic about how the people in the hospital are as people, the dialogue that takes place clearly showing what kind of person each character is. I also really liked the complexity between each character. Kaysen adequately describes each of her friend’s or associates disorder and/or personality, telling us information of what their diagnosis is and representations of their actions because of it. What I did not like about the book is the fact that some scenes are a bit complicated to understand. Often, when the author paints a visual it is in a linear and sequential form, however, Kaysen’s style, while I do love it, can tend to go back and forth between reality and the thoughts in her head abruptly. I would recommend this book to others because it is a hysterically humorous, yet completely honest memoir of a troubled young lady and how she preservers through her condition and continues to live her life among society today.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl, Interrupted was about a teenager, Susanna, who goes to this hospital for mental illness. She meets different people who don’t care what they say. There is Lisa, and Georgina. Lisa says anything that is on her mind, and most of it isn’t nice. Georgina is more caring and she is Susanna’s roommate. The main conflict was when before Susanna came to the hospital, she almost committed suicide. She doesn’t want to face reality. Some plot events were that Susanna had to see a doctor almost every day. Her and the doctor talked about how she feels. Another plot event is when Lisa kept escaping. She would find a way to escape but she would always get caught and put back into the hospital. What I like about the book is that is shows what it is like in a mental hospital. The book shows how actual people with problems act. It shows the way they live and what they have to go through. What I don’t like about the book is that the girls were mean to each other. They call each other names, and they take advantage of the rules there. I recommend this book because it shows that there are people who go through mental issues but they get through it together. It shows that there are places and people who can help you through your problems.
YESAK_EROMNUD More than 1 year ago
The book girl interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is about 18 year old Kaysen Susanna"s experience as she is entered into a psychiatric hospital in Massachusetts. She is put there because of continuous behavioral issues in school which was rooted from depression. While at the facility she comes in contact with many other patients her age such as Torrey, a girl who arrived from Mexico after dealing with a substance abuse problem. The main conflict of the story would be Kaysen coming to terms with the fact that almost two years of her life was put to a halt in order for her to go to the hospital. At one point in the story she encounters medical students who are observing the facility. Kaysen expresses how she looks at them as an alternate version of herself. She sees what she could have accomplished in the time she had been in the hospital. Two main events in the plot would have had to been when she was first placed into the facility because she is able to better herself and her mind state throughout he time there. Also, another important event would be when she was taken to the dentist and given medication to fall asleep. She wakes, unable to remeber how long she was asleep. In this moment she truly begins to value the time she has to live her life. Not only the time she lost while at the dentist, but the time she has spent at the hospital. The book was interesting in my opinion because throughout the book the book you are reliving a flashback of the time she spent in the hospital until the story reaches her present time. I also enjoyed that although the hospital was a place where Kaysen was able to better herself she still yearned for an escape. This was made obvious when she says, " The hospital is the womb, see. you can't go anywhere and its noisy, and your stuck. The tunnels are like a hospital without the bother." In this way Kaysen is a free spirit. Also, I like how her medical records were shown throughout the story. It felt as if you were that much deeper into the story. I would recommend this book because, while reading it kept me entertained. Whether i was wanting to know more about what was happening to her in that moment or how she was going to overcome it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Susanna Kaysen was your average teen age girl until she had a session with a psychiatrist. After only twenty minutes of talking she was sent to McLean Hospital. While at the psychiatric hospital, she met Lisa. Lisa is a patient in the same ward as Susanna. Lisa had been diagnosed as a sociopath. This caused her personality to be driven by her own self intentions and her confidence made Susanna want like her and want to be like her. This lead to her constantly planning escapes for herself or at times other people. Cynthia is a patient in the same ward as Susanna and was diagnosed with severe depression. Georgina is Susanna’s roommate. She was diagnosed with depression and is a kind hearted person. In “Girl, Interrupted” there are two different conflicts. She has the internal conflict of how she attempted suicide, which was what put her in the asylum and how she has to learn to deal with her depression in other ways than self harm or suicide. At the beginning of the book she didn’t think she belonged in the asylum and she felt pity for the others. For example she said that everyone in the ward is sick because they are mentally sick. But at least they can one day get be mentally stable and forget their past. However Polly, a girl in Susanna’s ward had attempted suicide by setting herself on fire, so she has forever scares reminding her of her past. Staying the ward and being around other unstable people showed her how to deal with depression other than self harm or suicide. The other conflict Susanna is going through is character vs. society. This is the conflict of her being placed in the asylum and being mentally stable. The doctors had first said she would only be there for two weeks but it eventually extended to two years. She kept fighting to be released. Though when she was released she still had to deal with society treating her different since she was in McLean Hospital. Susanna had to have a session with a psychiatrist because she had attempted suicide by taking an over dose of aspirin but half way through she decided to give up and passed out. After being in the asylum for two years she was only released because she had married. In “Girl, Interrupted” I liked how Susanna had explained what the differences are in the mind of a mentally stable person and a mentally unstable person. When she was explaining the differences it had made a lot of sense. One thing I did not like about the book was it had a lot of cursing. In some chapters there was almost a cussword every other word. I would definitely recommend this book however I would not recommend it to younger readers due to cursing as well a lot of the words are hard to understand.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the book, Girl, Interrupted, written by Susanna Kaysen is based on a real life event. Susanna, an 18 year old girl, is admitted to McLean Hospital Ward for young teenage girls after seeing a psychiatrist for the first time. When she arrives to the hospital, she meets other girls her age that have been there for a while because some were insane. The girls’ names were Lisa, Valerie, Polly, and Alice. Lisa was the type to not care about anything. Valerie was the ward nurse that was the nicest to all the teenage girls. Polly was once a pleasant, beautiful girl until she set herself on fire for an unknown reason. The main conflict of this book is character vs. character. I say this because when all the teenagers are together, it’s a contest on who is more insane than the other. An important event in the story is when she is admitted to the story. On page 11 it shows Susanna’s Hospital admission report. I believe that this is important because it shows in detail why she was transferred there. I recommend this book to others because it has a lot of meaning in it. I liked how the author wrote this book while she was in the ward, explaining each day in detail. On page 39 it says, “[…] The fifty aspirin-but I’ve explained them. They were metaphorical. I wanted to get rid of a certain aspect of my character.” I like this quote because it shows that Susanna has a low self-esteem, which leads to suicide, and then her character disorder. Susanna has a hard time in there and is confused on why she is in there. It is incredible because she gets through all her hard times in there and becomes more understanding.
Caylin_Martinez More than 1 year ago
Susanna Kaysen is an 18 year old girl that's unordinary from people out in the real world. Susanna gets sent straight into a mental institution after a session with her therapist. Although she claims she has no idea of why she's been put in the institution she flashbacks into her old life showing that she actually is a bit insane. Susanna finds the people in the institution entertaining and seem more sane than the people outside of the institution. Susanna is a very bland person and doesn't go into depth about her life, she tells pieces about her life but never goes into full depth. What I really liked about this novel was the way Susanna and all the people she met got along so well. They all knew they were a but insane but embraced each other for their different insanities, even though they were never emotional towards each other it was obvious they got along. What I disliked about the story is that as I read the story I didn't like the fact that Susanna doesn't give reasoning, she tells a story of divorcing her husband but never says why or how her illness interrupted or got in the way of the marriage. I recommend this story because it's a different perspective on life, rather than from an ordinary person's point of view the story shows you different view on life through Susanna's point of view and her chaotic thoughts. This book is written brilliantly overall and captured the reality of Susanna's life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen the protagonist is introduced as she is in her doctors office after taking fifty aspirin. Luckily, she survives but she signs herself in into a mental hospital called McLean Hospital. It introduces the life of being in a mental hospital and how people in there interact. The conflict in the story is that she thought she was going to stay in the hospital for a few weeks but ends up being there for almost two years. In that time span she meets people and lives the everyday life in a hospital. After Susanna is put in the mental hospital, she meets her new friends and she starts acting like them. Is there still time for Susanna to become who she was before and live a good life or will she stay in the hospital forever. A few years later after she gets out of the hospital she runs into some of her friend that she met in the hospital and sees that they changed. I like that the author took a step further and made the writing realistic. She really described the life of being in a mental hospital and what happens daily in there. I like that everyone know and then she introduces a new person with their own vignette so you get to go into that persons life and see where they have been and how they ended up in the hospital. After she get out of the hospital she starts describing the illness that she had, which was interesting learning about it. I don't like that it would get boring at some points so I would have to go back and re read it. The order that the vignettes were put in made it hard for me to catch the main idea of the story. I would recommend this book if you’re looking to laugh but also have an inside look on reality.
PromiseBass More than 1 year ago
This book is about a girl named Susanna. She is an 18 year old girl who is bordering on the line of insanity. She is fighting with herself, battling her mental illness. As a result of this, Susanna is put in a mental institution. Before she was hospitalized, she attempted to kill herself by taking too many sleeping pills. In the hospital, she meets a number of girls with a range of personalities. I enjoyed this book because of its realistic depiction of mental illness. This book shows how mental illness greatly affects people’s lives. For example, Daisy, one of the girls Susanna meets, has an eating disorder which causes her to have an infatuation with chicken. Daisy also has an obsession with laxatives, which also causes her to use the bathroom excessively. When Daisy is put in isolation, the author gives a clear image of her cell. Also, when Susanna is trying to rip her skin off, she is genuinely worried that she is not human. In addition, Susanna Kaysen writes about how hard it is for mentally ill people to live normal lives. Susanna struggles with being outside of the hospital and acting “normal”. I would recommend this book to others because it is so informational. Girl, Interrupted explains what happens when people go insane. It explains what changes in them, how they handle their life. This book goes into the brain of the insane.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl, Interrupted Review Girl, Interrupted is a novel about a young girl, Susanna Kaysen who is dealing with depression and is put into a hospital to get help. She had considered many times to escape. However, Kaysen never needed to "escape". She was 18 and could leave anytime she wanted, but was too exhausted by her depression. The main conflict in this novel is her internal conflict with her depression. She knows that she should be happy and be living a normal life, but her depression is holding her back. Polly is one of the patients at the mental hospital who had tried to burn herself. She poured gasoline all over herself, and lit a match. Seeing this, Kaysen thought that she could get out of her difficulties, but Polly couldn't. This made her realize that even though she was depressed, other people had it worse. I enjoyed this book because I was able to see Kaysen's experience at the hospital. There was a dramatic change from in the beginning of the novel when she was just a young depressed girl, to see her slowly become a happier person. There are many times in the novel where she had given up on leaving. Kaysen had become preoccupied with her hands, and began wondering if there was any bones in it. She begins to scratch and tear at her skin. However, once she was caught she claimed she knew that she was going to be in the hospital forever. Overall, I would recommend this book to others because it allows the readers to understand what a depressed person has to go through and how serious depression is.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Girl, Interrupted” is about Susanna Kaysen, age eighteen. She was put in McLean hospital, a mental hospital. During her stay she meets some memorable people, Polly, Lisa, Georgina, Daisy, Wade, Lisa Cody, Correy, and Alice. They all have one thing in common, they’ve lost sanity and they’re trying to find it there. Susanna was placed in McLean after 20 minutes of speaking to a doctor. Her stay makes her question if “sanity” is just an illusion to make people feel normal. A friend of her family comes to take her away one day. She wouldn’t go with him because she thinks she should stay for her whole treatment for attempted suicide. Alice is who made Susanna want to try to recover. When she went to see her in maximum security it made her realize she didn’t want to be the same way. The book was all around good. It gives you an insight on what mental hospitals are really like. Also, I think that it makes you realize that not all “insane” people are bad. I liked that she even added in her medical files so it gave us even more insight into what her experience was like. The book really made me contemplate whether sanity and insanity are real or just mere illusions. The only thing I did not like was, that it was hard to keep up with at times due to it being written in vignettes. I would recommend this book if you like psychiatry or questioning the norm and reading outside of the box.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The memoir Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a fantastic book that tells the two-year long true story of a girl diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder put in a mental hospital. Before reading this book, it should be noted that it contains strong language and mature content. This book does not hold back, it’s filled with dark comedy and biting realities. Susanna makes the contrast of the metal ward to the real world by calling it a “parallel universe”. The stories she tells of fellow women inside of the hospital are absolutely terrifying. For example, Polly, a woman who set herself on fire, or Daisy, a woman with a passion for laxatives and chicken, and would hound multiple chicken carcasses in her room. One of the best insights this memoir gives is some of the types of punishment in a mental health facility. Ms. Kaysen describes a seclusion room meant to “quarantine people who have gone bananas”. She describes a bare mattress surrounded by chipped walls and a door covered in chicken wiring. If patients didn’t calm down after a while in that room, they were put under “maximum security”, a whole other world. This type of information is important to know for the everyday person because it is important that hospitals not seem like another world, but instead a treatment place where conditions should be humane. The most significant point this book makes to provide education on mental disorders from the point of view of the patient. This point of view makes it so the information is not all scientific, but philosophical. The author compares Mind vs. Brain, and how an unbalance of each little voice inside your head is what leads to insanity. She does a fantastic job of taking you, the reader, through what having a character disorder really feels like and what her thought process is like. The questions she asks and discusses with herself throughout the book are truly compelling. They are questions you wouldn’t think to ask yourself before. If you want something to really make you think about the truth of life and the reality of death or suicide, read this book. I would recommend this book to people in high school and older. This may initially look like a short book to get through, but it is a very interesting read that takes a lot of energy and thinking to really digest. It is a really funny book at times, with dark comedy. It will make you feel sympathy for some patients, and maybe even empathy for others. It will truly make you understand what goes on behind mental hospital walls. --Abigail Regan
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good Book So Far But Haven't Had Time To Finish Yet. Wish I Could Find Another Like It.
Celesteaz3 More than 1 year ago
In the book, “Girl, Interrupted”, author Susana Kaysen describes what its like to live in a mental hospital. After attempted suicide by overdose, Susanna is forced to go toa monthly therapy session to get into better habbits and have a happy, healthy lifestyle. While at an appointment her doctor and her have a casual discussion about how she is doing and what her daily activities are. As she is there her doctor realizes that she has formed a blemish on her face. he then asks her if she's getting enough rest. After replying no he offers her a place to rest for awhile, calls a taxi, and walks her down to the taxi. During this process she thinks nothing more of it than regular checkup. However, what awoke her senses was when the doctor closed the door to her taxi to tell the driver not to stop anywhere until they have reached their destinination at McLean hospital. While at this hospital she ges through a serioes of shock treatments and shots. Susan also meets a couple of friends named daisy, polly and lisa. Together the four think of what thier lives would be like outside of the wretched place. The only visit Susan recieves while there is from a friend of hers who offers to take her away from the place to start a new life. She doesn't take the offer for some odd reason. I reommend this book because its very interesting and i myself admire non-fiction. However, I did not like how she kept jumping from place to place talking about her life in a mental hopital. For example, she would first talk about going to the doctors office then she would talk about what she did before getting there. I'm not quite sure if that was just me but I found it somewhat annoying.