Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted

by Susanna Kaysen

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Girl, Interrupted 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 248 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?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Although many characters in Girl Interrupted are temporary this doesn't lesser their significance in the story because sometimes even though people are only with us for a short time they can have an immense effect on us just the same. One character that fits this description in the book is Susanna’s doctor, because even though the first time she meets him is the only time she meets him physically, he was still able to change her life because he is the reason she is in the mental health hospital (Kaysen 8). Another very important character that is reoccuring in the story is not only susanna but her own thoughts, or better said her subconscious. One of the things she does by influence of this unsaid character was take fifty aspirin. She says suicide is premeditated murder and you needed strong motives for it, and one of her main motives were created by her inner most thoughts. She says you also need to become apart from yourself; “Suicide is a form of murder-premeditated murder. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it… And you need the means, the opportunity, the motive… It’s important to cultivate detachment . One way to do this is to practice imagining yourself dead, or in the process of dying… If there is a knife, you must imagine the knife piercing you're skin… My motives were weak: an American history paper… and the question I’d asked months earlier, Why not kill myself?” (Kaysen 36). She describes it as premeditated murder because there is a lot of prior thinking that goes into it. She says she has to imagine herself being harmed maybe it's her subconscious being harmed, because if her thoughts are harmed then she can become more detached as she says is necessary for suicide. The question about “why not kill myself,” is made by herself and her thoughts (Kaysen 36). Susanna is the most important character in this book because she actually is more than just one character. Another part suggesting that Susanna is more than one character is when she says “it was only a part of myself wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself,” (Kaysen 37). She even refers to herself as more than one person because she wants to kill only a part of herself rather than her entire self, which would be impossible unless she were two people. This book was captivating in a sort of deranged way, because she tries to take you into the mind of somebody who is insane. She describes suicide with a gun by saying when you put it in your mouth you can taste it and feel it, but she wasn't brave enough to truly kill herself because when she went out on the street it was as though she gave up; “But when you put it[the gun] there you taste, it’s cold and greasy… Fifty aspirin is a lot of aspirin, but going onto the street and fainting is like putting the gun back in the drawer,” (Kaysen 16). When she describes how you can taste the gun it is almost like you can taste the defeat and only those with true intentions can go through with it, but those who can’t put “the gun back in the drawer,” (Kaysen 16). Although it may seem like the second person is defeated maybe it is the second person who is stronger because they find the strength to move forward, the first person is the one who truly loses the battle because they lose everything when they pull that trigger. I would not necessarily recommend this book for teens, I am a teen, because of the way it talks about suicide, and even though Susanna doesn't die she says what you need to do to
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In Girl Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen is an intelligent 18 year old, yet she is very troubled. The story is narrated in an apathetic, cool tone and displays life in a mental hospital in the 60’s. Kaysen seems like one of those girls who just live with nothing holding her back, but her mental illness kind of takes over her. She calls life in the hospital “[their] parallel world” (28). An internal conflict Kaysen encountered was when she felt like she wasn’t real, so her scratched her arm trying to see if she had bones like everyone. After scratching her arms, I think that Kaysen comes to her senses and takes her treatment more seriously. The climax of the book is definitely when Kaysen goes therapy, and she learns to be more independent and accepts her illness. Kaysen is doing well most of the time, but she still has an uneasy feeling about the outside world especially when she went out for ice cream and completely flips over the checkered floors. Although I do respect Kaysen for being so open about her illness and story, I did not really enjoy the book. I dislike how she includes irrelevant characters and scenes. Throughout the entire book, there were some side plots that don’t add up to the climax and shouldn’t be in the book. Personally, I think that the book would be better if Kaysen hadn’t included the boyfriends so much because it kind of takes away her development. Also, the way Kaysen states and explains the ending is very unclear, and I couldn’t really wrap my head around it. The main reason I didn’t enjoy this book very much is Kaysen’s writing style. The style Kaysen writes in is very difficult to comprehend that I had to read almost every line twice. This book is definitely not one of my favorites, and I do not recommend it to people who do not like nonfiction books.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A good book dealing with mental illness.
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
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.
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.”
Les_Livres More than 1 year ago
"...Kaysen initially was admitted to McLean for treatment of depression, but ended up being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, and some of the files that have been scanned into the book are quite interesting to look at. Academically, there is a lot more known about mental illness now than there was while Kaysen was being treated at McLean, but there are still a lot of common misconceptions, and that makes me feel like at least some of the stigma still exists against this type of thing. That's one of the reasons I think I like this book so much; Kaysen and the other in-patients she talks about don't really conjure up images of men in white coats, straitjackets and padded walls - they're in the moderate security ward. They don't seem necessarily crazy, for the most part, and I found myself really caring about them..." For full review, please visit me at Les Livres on Blogger! jaimeliredeslivres dot blogspot dot com
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.
TheLiteraryPhoenix 7 months ago
I’ve been meaning to re-read this book for an age, so thank you to the Reading Rush for getting me kickstarted on that. I particularly appreciate Girl, Interrupted because it’s a book that speaks to me. I remember reading it years ago and my initial impressions were 1.) this is nothing like the movie; and 2.) it was one of the first books I’d ever read where I felt like the author heard my experience. And honestly, that’s a bit snobbish because I haven’t gone through anything like Susanna Kaysen went through. I was definitely never institutionalized. But I discovered Girl, Interrupted when I was living with my parents still and struggling with anxiety and depression and getting no help and being made to feel crazy. And this book? This was a well-needed reminder that it’s okay to not be okay, and that is a version of normal. Girl, Interrupted is a story included in a series of essays. There are characters and scenes and moments that are all striking in their own right, but there are also copies of Susanna’s files within the pages. I’m not sure if they’re in all the editions of this book, but I assume so? At any rate, I found them powerful. There’s a letter from Susanna’s therapist to the RMV seven years-is after her release that gives her permission to drive – in little ways like that, you can see how her stay affected the rest of her life, putting a label on her. Some of the scenes in Girl, Interrupted are funny anecdotes. Some are soul-hollowing truths. Others are just informational – there’s a whole chapter defining Borderline Personality Disorder. McLean Hospital, where Susanna stayed – still exists today. While the institution opened as an asylum in 1818, the modern iteration of McLean hospital looks to be a safe and supportive place to be. Even in the late ’60s, Susanna never criticizes the mental care she received (or, when she does, it’s not a criticism of the care, but her general not wanting to deal with it). Kaysen’s writing in general is enjoyable, quick and descriptive. You get a feel for the place and the people there. Mental health memoirs aren’t for everyone. Everyone’s experiences are different. I thought Susanna’s story was powerful, but not too heavy. She speak sort of… sarcastically, I guess? I don’t want to say flippant, but the way she writes it’s clear that she’s rolling her eyes at a lot of things and taking them in stride, and I know that’s a weird way of explaining a writing voice, but I really liked it and it’s not as negative as I”m making it sound. I think her voice is what made the essays feel both relatable and impactful for the reader, despite personal experience. It’s hard for me to peg exactly why I love Girl, Interrupted, and that’s why this review is a little rambling. Susanna Kaysen makes the story her own, weaving the facts together with a great voice. Also there’s this essay in the middle called “Velocity vs. Viscosity” which talks about the different ways the brain goes when things are not perfect, and it makes me feel so heard, because I have a hard time explaining what I’m thinking about? I really appreciate that essay. And just… in general. I like this book, and I think anyone interested in mental health needs to read it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you’re someone who has an interest in psychology, this book is perfect. The way Suzanna portrays herself while staying at Claymore is very real. I had watched the movie earlier this year and loved it. I knew I wanted to read the book for my memoir project in English class. If you enjoy reading raw emotion from someone who has experienced something, “Girl, Interrupted” is the best book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
“Girl interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen is the definition of raw literature. The memoir dwelves deep into the mind and thoughts of Susanna and her times in the mental hospital but also gives a unique insight of mental health and illness. This memoir has the ability to not only be striking but also captivate the attention of the readers. It will leave you thinking for sure.
Vinn on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Absolutely amazing. One of my favorite books that I've ever read. I own two copies of this book, one I have never touched except to purchase it and the other I have read so many times that it is in rare form compared to the books assembled in my collection. I would recommend this book to anyone and everyone!!!!!!
amandrake on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I loved this book - when I got to the end I immediately turned back to the first page and started reading again.It describes a mental state and a way of life that most of us never see.Part of what fascinates me about this book is that regardless of what the author says, I think the diagnosis (of Borderline Personality Disorder) was spot on. The fact that she's looking through that lens - and that, frankly, you can't trust her to even know when she's dissembling - is what makes it more than just a straightforward memoir.
Nebraska_Girl1971 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I just could not get into it. Fishished it -- but it was a struggle.
idranksometea on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed very much reading this book (I read it in one afternoon, couldn't stop reading it!). The movie based on it is great, but it is very different from the book.The book is much softer and inside Susana Kaysen's head. I really liked that. The way she though things through and observed her surroundings was very nice. I also liked the questioning side of the book. Who is crazy? and, who gets to say who is sane and who insane?At the end she mentions how homosexuality was once considered a mental illness, and states that maybe her 'craziness' will one day be considered normal. I though this to be very beautiful. Definitively a good read. I recommend it.
stephxsu on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Susanna Kaysen was eighteen years old when a psychiatrist she had never met before diagnosed her with borderline personality disorder and sent her off to McLean, a mental hospital in Massachusetts. Within the scarily strict confines of the hospital¿¿checks¿ every five minutes, maximum security, three doctors every day¿Susanna witnesses the comings and goings of some eclectic patients, as well as the constancy of some more of her ¿friends.¿ Nearly two years later, Susanna is released from McLean. But is she cured? The doctors say she is ¿recovered,¿ but how does one recover from something that is extremely subjective in the first place?GIRL, INTERRUPTED is a fantastically written account of a stay in a mental hospital, in a time of American history where mental disorders were undergoing a sort of baby boom themselves, with people being diagnosed and confined to wards left and right. Kaysen artistically challenges the rampant diagnoses of mental illnesses. Readers will shudder¿and yet be awed¿at the circumstances she underwent, and wonder, perhaps a little depressingly, whether they could possibly be diagnosed for mental illness as well in such an unforgiving and untrusting world. Highly recommended!
Fluffyblue on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Slightly slow and bitty start to this memoir but I did finish the book feeling satisfied by having read it.I had previously seen the film, and comparing the two, I would probably say I enjoyed the film more, however that's probably because the film followed a sequence of events, and the book was quite choppy in that there was no particular timeline.I am still not sure whether the author suffered from a personality disorder or not, and I'm not sure whether Kaysen is in denial about her mental health. I think if anything, clarity on that would have given the book a higher rating from me. Perhaps I missed the point?
Magadri on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I was a little disappointed with this book. However, I started reading it with high expectations because I absolutely loved the movie. The characters in the book aren't as well developed and the book kind of jumps around from one thing to the next. I'm the type of person that likes solid plots though, so.... I would consider this more of a diary than a memoir or anything of the sort. Honestly, I think I'm going to stick to watching the movie with this one.