Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

4.2 186
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…  See more details below


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.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

Editorial Reviews

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.
Stephanie Zvirin
"I went out to dinner with my English teacher, and he kissed me, and I went back to Cambridge and failed biology, though I did graduate, and eventually I went crazy." Susanna Kaysen's voice isn't easy to forget; neither is the unsettling story of the "parallel universe" in which she lived for two years. Diagnosed in 1967 with a personality disorder, Kaysen, then 18 years old, admitted herself to a renowned Massachusetts psychiatric hospital, a "loony bin." Weaving in documents from her medical files, she summons up memories of those years, fusing them into a compelling pastiche, at once furious and surprisingly funny, that captures details of the time, the place, the people, and the events that were part of her disorderly, "interrupted" life. With wisdom born of hindsight, she beckons us swiftly and surely into that curious place, part safe haven, part house of horrors, and through words that inspire laughter and compassion as well as fear, she disturbs our complacency.
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.

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

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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.


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.

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Girl, Interrupted 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 186 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 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.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In the novel Girl Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen tells her story about her two years in a mental hospital. She is put in involuntarily in the spring of 1967. She reveals all the adventures, the hilarious people, and all of the different types of nurses she encounters in the hospital. The author`s purpose of the novel was to tell the reader that you can overcome any trouble in life. A piece of textual evidence to support this purpose is “Then there is the question of premature death from suicide. Luckily, I avoided it, but I thought about suicide a lot. I`d think about it and make myself sad over my premature death, then I would feel better,” (158). This piece of textual evidence conveys that Kaysen was struggling with the thought of suicide but she was able to overcome it. I enjoyed this novel greatly. There was a great deal of variation throughout the story. She tells about the friendships, drama, and relationships she gets involved in. “It wasn`t my troublesome boyfriend. First of all, he wasn`t my boyfriend anymore. How could a person who was locked up have a boyfriend?” (25). She also reveals her interpretation of the mind. “A lot of mind, though, is turning out to be brain. A memory is a particular pattern of cellular changes on particular spots in our heads” (137). Also the limitations she had as a patient. ‘I`d just like to see how you`d manage this place, never going outside, never breathing fresh air, never being able to open your own window…’ (80). I would recommend this book to readers who can enjoy a serious yet humorous book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen is a memoir of Kaysen’s days spent at the McLean Hospital for the mental in Cambridge, Massachusetts. When admitted, Kaysen expects to stay for only a few weeks and ends up staying for two years. This story is about her hospitalization and life after the mental hospital. Kaysen writes the story in a series of vignettes. In the vignettes, she shares her experience at the asylum and describes the people she met. There were many bonds and disputes formed between the patients. When Kaysen left the hospital, she discovers she was kept there because she was diagnoses with border-line personality disorder. Kaysen’s intention to write this book is to reveal the troubles of the so-called “insane” – how they are constantly questioned of their diagnoses; looked down upon; how their only home is the asylum; and how disrespected they are. This is portrayed in the quote, “Don’t ask me those questions! Don’t ask me what life means or how we know reality or why we have to suffer so much! Don’t talk about how nothing feels real..”. (125) This quote illustrates how the mentally disabled are looked down upon, it really bothers them to be interrogated. They can’t experience life because they are kept away in an mental ward. There are many things I liked and disliked in Girl, Interrupted. One of the things I liked was how united the patients were. For instance, when one of the patients left, all of the remaining patients were troubled and tried to keep her from dangers of the world. Another thing I enjoyed was how Kaysen describes the setting in a vibrant manner by adding descriptions of nurse and patients relations along with detailed illustrations of the personalities of various fellow patients. Lastly, I also liked how she explained the stages of insanity and how she felt toward the idea of insanity. On the other hand, I disliked various inferences spread throughout the story. For example, I disliked how there were many sex references and how their effect made you feel – violated. Also, I did not like the pattern in which Kaysen wrote her novel, in a nonchronological order of vignettes. I was very confused on how the plot moved along. I would advise people to read this novel, although hard to comprehend, it is a great and fast read.
JacobPaul19648 More than 1 year ago
An eighteen year-old girl, Susanna Kayson, gets sentenced to a psychiatric hospital unexpectedly after her first time visiting a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist claims that Susanna is crazy although she doesn’t believe him. With the time she spends at the hospital, she discovers that she is crazy and that she does need help, but she ends up making friends with the other patients who are just like her. With every chapter in the book, Susanna elaborates on different problems and events occurring in the story or in her mind, giving the reader a deeper insight on the confusing life of a patient at the hospital. “I started getting worried. Where were my bones? I put my hand in my mouth and bit it, to see if I crunched down on something hard.” In this quote the author shows that Susanna actually is crazy. She is crazy enough to not believe she has bone. What I didn’t like about the book was how there were entire chapters devoted to Susanna explaining her train of thought about her belief of how things seemed to her. She said things such as; “Time is slow, dripping slowly through the clogged filter of thickened perception.” I thought these chapters seemed dull and extremely uneventful. Although, in these chapters she did give a lot of deep insight and a better understanding of the mysteries of her condition: “Insanity comes in two basic varieties: slow and fast. I’m not talking onset or duration. I mean the quality of insanity, the day-to-day business of being nuts.” Even so, quotes like this: “The predominant quality of the slow form of viscosity. Experience is thick. Perceptions are thickened and dulled” overruled the in depth quotes that had information on the way she saw her disease.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If I new there was only 130 pages I would of saved $ 11.00. Nothing different between the movie and the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
kelsiroth More than 1 year ago
Funny and incredibly clever. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Girl Uninterrupted  This was a compelling non-fiction book. Susanna Kaysen was committed to McLean Hospital when she was 18 after taking 50 aspirin and having continual relationship problems. This is a story about her illness and experience in the hospital. She tells many short stories about the doctors, nurses, and other patients. She tells many stories about Polly, a girl who burns her face and arms; Lisa, who tries to escape often and tries to help others escape; Georgia, Susanna's roommate who also has a boyfriend Wade in a different mental hospital; and Daisy, who committed suicide shortly after she left the hospital. It is almost like a diary in the way she explains what she is going through in the hospital. The down side to this was that the book got a little choppy with this format. She was the girl uninterrupted because this book was so hard to put down. It is a new perspective that not many have heard before; not often do people take the time to listen to a crazy person. The best part of the book is when she says, "I often ask myself if I'm crazy. I ask other people too." She still battles with her mind, contemplating that she is still mentally ill. It's intriguing that she still needs to reassure herself that she is okay. I found this book particularly useful because I read it while doing an ethnography for English class. I studied the culture of people who are caretakers to the mentally ill. I had heard a lot of information from the caretakers and they were very positive, but now I got to here the mentally ill's take on their care. (It wasn't nearly as positive as the caretakers were.) Over all I would give this book 4 stars due to the fact it was so interesting and had great content, but it is a little choppy in parts and they end drags on a little about her diagnosis. However, I would highly recommend this book.