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Transcript of Girl, Interrupted
What is the main idea?
memoir written by Susanna Kaysen detailing her nearly two-year stay in the psychiatric ward of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts
not told chronologically, but rather in stories of those she encountered in the hospital and personal reflections trying to reconcile why she had been committed
Why was she admitted?
Susanna's family sends her to a brief consultation with a therapist prepared to send her to McLean after a suicide attempt.
borderline personality disorder
Susanna is told by her family that she will only be staying for a few weeks, so she signs herself in for treatment.
What occurred during her stay at McLean?
met several other patients with a myriad of different conditions that contributed to her experiences
ponders the nature of her own illness as she makes many wild suggestions that sanity is a "falsehood" invented by the "healthy" in order to feel "normal"
goes through a dissociative episode in which she bites open her hand, convinced that she "lost her bones".
What occurred during her stay, and what happened after her release?
devolved into a state of apprehension and obsession that would consume her unless medicated
stayed in contact with her roommate after release
The World of McLean
"Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental illness marked by unstable moods, behavior, and relationships," (National Institute of Mental Health).
escapes the hospital regularly only to be found and re-admitted within a few days
ex-junkie that harasses both the staff and other patients
avoids therapy completely and taking medication whenever possible
violently erratic behavior that often leads her to being restrained or placed in solitary
severe third-degree burn scars all over her face and body from setting herself on fire as a child
regarded by the other patients as courageous for being able to burn herself
incredibly optimistic and cheerful until she suddenly begins to sob one day uncontrollably upon realizing the permanence of her physical disfigurement.
identifies herself as a pathological liar, though this is not her true medical diagnosis
Susanna's roommate throughout the novel as the two of them are considered to be the "healthiest" patients on the psychiatric ward
has a boyfriend named Wade also on the psychiatric ward
obsessive compulsive disorder
admitted before Thanksgiving and through Christmas every year into a single room
Susanna claims that she is the only one of the women on the ward with any "spark" in her
only eats chicken and requires laxatives because of this diet
frequently visited by her father
eventually commits suicide on her birthday
head nurse on the women's psychiatric ward in McLean
strict though generally favored by patients
honest and down-to-earth with the patients
consultant psychiatrist on the ward
very straight-laced and rarely sees patients directly
Susanna purposefully provokes embarrassment in Dr. Wick in their sessions together.
This book stands out to me as a 5 out of 5 stars because I am so fascinated by the treatment of mental illness through hospitalization rather than keeping those afflicted in their home environment.
I would recommend this book to anyone that is intrigued with mental illness from the perspective of the patient and the practices of psychiatric hospitals in the 1960s.