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Girl, Interrupted PDF, ePub eBook


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Title: Girl, Interrupted
Author: Susanna Kaysen
Publisher: Published April 19th 1994 by Vintage (first published 1993)
ISBN: 9780679746041
Status : FREE Rating :
4.6 out of 5

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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 progressive methods of tr 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.

30 review for Girl, Interrupted

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    have you ever spent any time in a psychiatric hospital? yeah, well, i don't recommend it. i was a patient for a total of 2 and a half days, and it was one of the best and worst experiences of my life. i liked this book because i was able to relate to some of her feelings. when i went in, it was because i was on the verge of something, and thank god i caught myself in time. my first morning there, i remember thinking, "i have to get out of here, because i may not be crazy now, but these people wi have you ever spent any time in a psychiatric hospital? yeah, well, i don't recommend it. i was a patient for a total of 2 and a half days, and it was one of the best and worst experiences of my life. i liked this book because i was able to relate to some of her feelings. when i went in, it was because i was on the verge of something, and thank god i caught myself in time. my first morning there, i remember thinking, "i have to get out of here, because i may not be crazy now, but these people will make me crazy." i'm so glad to have been proved wrong. while this may sound terrible, i listened to the other people's problems, and realized that my mild depression (or whatever it was) was nothing in comparison to what these poor people were going through in their lives. susana keysen may have had some problems, but overall, she was one of the sanest people there. she was able to get to know some "interesting" people, and in seeing them, she could compare her own problems to theirs. sorry to use my own story to describe someone else's book, but that's what made it such a good read for me. a good book should have the ability to transfer you to that time or place, and my experiences made it so much easier for this book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Emma Giordano

    3 stars! While I did enjoy this book, I don’t feel I loved it as much as I expected to. CW: borderline personality disorder, suicide I am not much of a non-fiction reader, so the format and storytelling methods of memoirs and such are unfamiliar to me, and I typically do not enjoy them as much as fiction novels. I did believe I would enjoy Girl, Interrupted more than other non-fiction works that I’ve read because I am a big fan of the film adaptation. I feel as if the book were to be more chronolo 3 stars! While I did enjoy this book, I don’t feel I loved it as much as I expected to. CW: borderline personality disorder, suicide I am not much of a non-fiction reader, so the format and storytelling methods of memoirs and such are unfamiliar to me, and I typically do not enjoy them as much as fiction novels. I did believe I would enjoy Girl, Interrupted more than other non-fiction works that I’ve read because I am a big fan of the film adaptation. I feel as if the book were to be more chronological and follow a linear plot ARC as opposed to unanticipated time jumps, I would have enjoyed it more as that as what I prefer to read. I understand this fact is charming to many readers who love this book, but it’s just not my cup of tea. I also felt the chapters were too short (and the novel as a whole). I think I would have felt much more from the stories and characters if I had more time to learn their habits, their desires, and what makes them tick. On the positive side, I loved the subject matter of the story. Borderline Personality Disorder is rarely discussed in media, so I feel the fact that Girl, Interrupted exists and has gained widespread attention is amazing. There are many passages that I feel are thought-provoking and insightful regarding what it is like, not only to live with an illness like BPD, but what it is like to have a mental illness in the 1960’s. Though I struggled with certain elements of the story and it left me a bit disappointed, I would still recommend it to anyone looking for non-fiction books about psychology and specifically Borderline Personality Disorder.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nataliya

    “Was insanity just a matter of dropping the act?” Good question, isn't it? You may start asking yourself this after reading this book. I only spent a few months taking care of patients in psychiatric hospitals, but it made me really appreciate the nuances of Kaysen's story. It is the viewpoint of someone who had to experience questioning her sanity - the one thing most of us take for granted. "Every window in Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco." What some don't know about personality disorde “Was insanity just a matter of dropping the act?” Good question, isn't it? You may start asking yourself this after reading this book. I only spent a few months taking care of patients in psychiatric hospitals, but it made me really appreciate the nuances of Kaysen's story. It is the viewpoint of someone who had to experience questioning her sanity - the one thing most of us take for granted. "Every window in Alcatraz has a view of San Francisco." What some don't know about personality disorders is that they will not "just go away". You can learn how to cope with them, but you will not be "cured". The scary thing about them is that you can look at them as bits of your "regular" personality, just significantly amplified. Some of borderline personality disorder symptoms include implusivity, uncertaintly about one's identity, rapid changes in interests and values, thinking in black-or-white terms, unstable or turbulent emotions, chaotic relationships, fear of being abandoned, and feelings of emptiness and boredom. I am sure all of us have experienced some of these at one time or another. The scary question then becomes - what separates "normal" from "crazy"? Where are we on that spectrum? Is that what scares us about "going crazy"? The same question seems to be troubling Kaysen. “Was everybody seeing this stuff and acting as though they weren't? Was insanity just a matter of dropping the act?” Doctors and nurses alike tend to be wary of patients with personality disorders, and borderline personality disorder in particular gets a bad rap. It can be quite draining treating someone with BPD, that's true, but we don't always think about what the world must seem like through their eyes. And that's where Girl, Interrupted brings this often overlooked perspective. This book does not have a defined plot or a linear narrative - it is just a story of an unhappy young woman trying to find her place in a world that excludes her, and it is an enlightening and interesting read. I highly recommend it for anyone who is interested in medicine or psychology.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Kelly (and the Book Boar)

    Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “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.” Boy was it ever easy for Susanna Kaysen to end up in a psychiatric hospital. Now, Susanna was not “normal” per se. She randomly obsessed about things as bizarre as whether or not she actually had bones in her body since she couldn’t see them and wa Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/ “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.” Boy was it ever easy for Susanna Kaysen to end up in a psychiatric hospital. Now, Susanna was not “normal” per se. She randomly obsessed about things as bizarre as whether or not she actually had bones in her body since she couldn’t see them and was battling depression that at one point led her to down 50 aspirin. She most definitely needed some help . . . But in the 1960s the form of help provided to young girls like Susanna was a long-term stay in the local looney bin where the Thorazine flowed like water and electric shock therapy was a sure-fire cure for crazy. Although compact and a very fast read, Girl Interrupted is a haunting story that I won’t soon forget and will easily go down as one of the best memoirs I’ve ever read. Not only is the story fascinating (and a bit horrifying), but Ms. Kaysen’s writing is some of the most truthful I’ve seen . . . “Suicide is a form of murder – premeditated murder. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes getting used to.” “I think many people kill themselves simply to stop the debate about whether they will or they won’t.” “It was only part of myself I wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself.” “‘Today, you seem puzzled about something.’ Of course I was sad and puzzled, I was eighteen, it was spring, and I was behind bars.” Highly recommended.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Navessa

    I’m sort of at a loss for how to describe this book and the emotions it provoked within me. I guess the best word I could use is “unsettled”, but probably not for the reason you would imagine. This quote might shed some light on what I mean: “The less likely (a) terrible thing is to happen, the less frightening it is to look at or imagine. A person who doesn’t talk to herself or stare into nothingness is therefore more alarming than a person who does. Someone who acts “normal” raises the uncomfo I’m sort of at a loss for how to describe this book and the emotions it provoked within me. I guess the best word I could use is “unsettled”, but probably not for the reason you would imagine. This quote might shed some light on what I mean: “The less likely (a) terrible thing is to happen, the less frightening it is to look at or imagine. A person who doesn’t talk to herself or stare into nothingness is therefore more alarming than a person who does. Someone who acts “normal” raises the uncomfortable question, What’s keeping me out of the loony bin?” Precisely. This story is told not from the perspective of someone who sees creatures lurking in the shadows, or is convinced that she is the girlfriend of a Martian, or is blinded by homicidal rage, but by a young woman fully self-aware of her own shortcomings. It made me ask myself, which is the worse fate? Descending blindly into madness, or being fully aware of your own dilemma and finding yourself helpless to prevent it? I think the reason that so many people find this tale so haunting is that while reading it, one can’t help but compare themselves to the narrator. I certainly did. And that’s the very reason this book left me feeling so unnerved. I was strikingly similar to this MC at the age of her institutionalization. What if I had been unlucky enough to be diagnosed by a therapist like hers? He spent all of fifteen minutes with her and came to the conclusion that she needed to be committed. After reading about the interaction, I can’t help but wonder…WHY? And more disturbingly…why not ME? I dare you to read this and not ask yourself the same questions. This review can also be found at The Book Eaters.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bryant

    Everything is made of language. In the morning you hear those damned birdies tweedlydee tweedlydoo to each other or some damned cats meowing but that’s not language. It may be communication but it has no grammar and it can only describe the here and now (the hear and know). The birdies are tweebing about the cats, “look there’s a kitty cat watch out” and the cats are meowing about the birdies (“I see a lot of edible things in trees”) and it doesn’t get much more interesting than that. They will Everything is made of language. In the morning you hear those damned birdies tweedlydee tweedlydoo to each other or some damned cats meowing but that’s not language. It may be communication but it has no grammar and it can only describe the here and now (the hear and know). The birdies are tweebing about the cats, “look there’s a kitty cat watch out” and the cats are meowing about the birdies (“I see a lot of edible things in trees”) and it doesn’t get much more interesting than that. They will never write a novel. Whereas humans are the opposite, they almost never talk about the here and now. It’s always “I’m sure this wasn’t as expensive as last time we were here” or “you have to get your suit cleaned for next week”. Human language is a really dangerous device, it’s explosive, because not only can you talk about things that aren’t in the here and now, you can with very little effort talk about things that couldn’t possibly exist ever. The owl and the pussycat went to sea in a beautiful pea green boat. They took some honey and plenty of money wrapped up in a five pound note. Well, it’s just nonsense, because you wouldn’t wrap up honey in a five pound note, it would gunge up the five pound note, no retailer would accept it, and anyway, an owl and a pussycat would never be able to hire a boat. They wouldn’t have a clue about navigation – how could they use oars? Is this a motorised boat? Was it a tidal estuary? Anyway, I’m getting distracted – by language. And this proves my point. Language means that hardly anything we say is true. I wish I was dead. My mother’s going to kill me. The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain. I am no longer in control of my own brain, something else is. All commonly used phrases, a million of them, none of them literally true. Well, we hope not. We hope there are very few mothers who will kill their children, actually kill them, if they’re an hour late. The metaphorical aspect of language, which is its limitless joy and psychedelic legerdemain that we all are in love with, or why would we be readers, leads us humanish beings into some unhappy dark places. All that beating of heads against walls about the Trinity in Christianity for instance. It’s a metaphor – three aspects of God – not three Gods – it’s a poetic way of expressing an ineffable reality (if you’re a Christian) - but the metaphor escaped and took on a life of its own and became a source of much befuddlement. Susanna Kaysen artfully informs us how the madness gets in. It’s when you can’t tell what is language describing something that is from language describing something that might be or could be or never could be. She gives an example – that bureau in the corner looks like a tiger (simile). No – that bureau in the corner IS a tiger! This whole book is about whether we are brains or minds. Brains are very very very very very very very complex machines. But minds are something else. Drugs can fix brains like oil can fix an engine. But drugs can’t fix minds. The only power they had was to dope us up. Thorazine, Stelazine, Mellaril, Librium, Valium : the therapists’ friends. Once we were on it, it was hard to get off. A bit like heroin, except it was the staff who got addicted to our taking it. This is a gigantic debate and may, of course, be another metaphor that has taken on an undeserved life of its own. (Is there a ghost in the machine? Well, I don’t believe in ghosts. But if a thing walks like a ghost and quacks like a ghost, then maybe.) Language leads this memoir astray. Susanna’s account of her 18 month stay in the loony bin (her jocular term, don’t look at me like that) is so wry, “cool, elegant and unexpectedly funny” (Sunday Times), “triumphantly funny” (NYT), “darkly comic” (Newsweek), so mordant, so witty, that it without meaning to verges on presenting hospitalization for mental illness as a hip alternative to college. The tag line on the back of my copy is : “Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy”. Hmmph, I should say not. Like it’s some kind of choice. Like you’re aligning mentally ill people with hipsters, beatniks, drop-outs, Left Bank artistic sufferers, hey, Van Gogh, Sylvia Plath – all those cool types. That’s the blurb writer getting carried away. Like all of us. Carried away by the onrushing ever tumbling surge of human language which is the ruin and the salvation of us all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Duane

    After reading novels like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Bell Jar, one could be forgiven for feeling skeptical about the treatment for the mentally ill during the 1960's. I'm not sure Susanna Kaysen's memoir will change that much. In 1967, after a short interview with a psychiatrist, she was admitted, (committed may be a better word), to a mental hospital in Massachusetts, the same one that treated Sylvia Plath. Her stay lasted about 2 years. She was told she had a "character disorder". After reading novels like One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest or The Bell Jar, one could be forgiven for feeling skeptical about the treatment for the mentally ill during the 1960's. I'm not sure Susanna Kaysen's memoir will change that much. In 1967, after a short interview with a psychiatrist, she was admitted, (committed may be a better word), to a mental hospital in Massachusetts, the same one that treated Sylvia Plath. Her stay lasted about 2 years. She was told she had a "character disorder". Twenty five years later, after reading her hospital records, she learned she was diagnosed with "Borderline Personality Disorder". This memoir is her recollection of the time she spent, the treatment she received, the doctors and nurses who treated her, and the other patients around her. For those of us who are not personally familiar with these type of histories and institutions, this is an eye opening revelation and I can only hope things have improved since 1967. The book title was inspired by Vermeer's painting "Girl Interruped at Her Music". http://www.johannes-vermeer.org/girl-...#

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sidharth Vardhan

    "'Today, you seem puzzled about something.’ Of course I was sad and puzzled, I was eighteen, it was spring, and I was behind bars.” Kind of sheds light on the whole system of mental asylums, doesn't it? Anyway how do you know if the treatment of a mentally disordered person is working. You won't take their word for it, and if they question the institution, than you can claim (and actually genuinely believe) that you are suffering from persecution complex. That is the trouble - they have a big "'Today, you seem puzzled about something.’ Of course I was sad and puzzled, I was eighteen, it was spring, and I was behind bars.” Kind of sheds light on the whole system of mental asylums, doesn't it? Anyway how do you know if the treatment of a mentally disordered person is working. You won't take their word for it, and if they question the institution, than you can claim (and actually genuinely believe) that you are suffering from persecution complex. That is the trouble - they have a big word for everything which makes you think of it as a disease. If you are too moody, you have bipolar disease; if you are too sad, you are depressed; if you are too happy, you are suffering from euphoria. You can't do anything out of proportion or rules in this world gets declared insane. And once you are declared crazy, even things you do by the book of proportions is suspected: "They had a special language: regression, acting out, hostility, withdrawal, indulging in behavior. This last phrase could be attached to any activity and make it sound suspicious: indulging in eating behavior, talking behavior, writing behavior. In the outside world people ate and talked and wrote, but nothing we did was simple." Also, with a race which seems to be at war with itself and rest of life on planet since begining of its so called 'intelligence' and which has brought the planet to destruction, who, really can lay claim on sanity? Still it is one of those chances where you can see things from point of view of an inmate. With people like author and her friends, part of problem is knowledge of their instablity. How much lonely they must feel knowing that that they are alone in the world of things they are imagining. And some were really teenagers, discovering the not so likeable realities of the world, so one can't help wondering whether they couldn't be helped more with a good counseling and medicine rather than being locked in an asylum. I still do not agree with her complete disapproval of professional of psychologists, I think that as a field it still seems to be finding its feet (and unfortunately has started on wrong foot) - also while being a psychologist may not be the hardest thing, being a good one must be terribly difficult requiring insight into human mind, a combination or compassion and disinterestedness, patience etc. But except for that, it was beautiful all around. Parting thought : it is a memoir, read it like that and not as a novel. It is not supposed to be entertaining. More quotes: “When you’re sad you need to hear your sorrow structured into sound." "Why did she do it? Nobody knew. Nobody dared to ask. Because—what courage! Who had the courage to burn herself? Twenty aspirin, a little slit alongside the veins of the arm, maybe even a bad half hour standing on a roof: We’ve all had those. And somewhat more dangerous things, like putting a gun in your mouth. But you put it there, you taste it, it’s cold and greasy, your finger is on the trigger, and you find that a whole world lies between this moment and the moment you’ve been planning, when you’ll pull the trigger. That world defeats you. You put the gun back in the drawer. You’ll have to find another way." "Suicide is a form of murder—premeditated murder. It isn’t something you do the first time you think of doing it. It takes getting used to. And you need the means, the opportunity, the motive. A successful suicide demands good organization and a cool head, both of which are usually incompatible with the suicidal state of mind." “I think many people kill themselves simply to stop the debate about whether they will or they won’t.” “It was only part of myself I wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself.” "Our hospital was famous and housed many great poets and singers. Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness?”

  9. 5 out of 5

    E

    While Susanna Keysen composes some very poetic essays offering alternative and sometimes beautiful perspectives in her autobiography, her general tone is very, very defensive. Granted discussing whether or not one suffered from a mental illness can never be easy, but the book seems to be her manifesto for proving that she wasn't really borderline, as her therapist diagnosed. I don't know enough about Borderline Personality Disorder to judge - I agree that it seems women are disproportionately di While Susanna Keysen composes some very poetic essays offering alternative and sometimes beautiful perspectives in her autobiography, her general tone is very, very defensive. Granted discussing whether or not one suffered from a mental illness can never be easy, but the book seems to be her manifesto for proving that she wasn't really borderline, as her therapist diagnosed. I don't know enough about Borderline Personality Disorder to judge - I agree that it seems women are disproportionately diagnosed with it, and a conservative environment could easily allow for any non-conformist woman to be blamed for her own marginalization and labeled insane. However, while Keysen seems to want to be seen as simply non-conformist in an oppressive time, she was in some ways destructively so by her own admission. She gave herself bruises, she attempted suicide, she tried to break into her own hand convinced it was a monkey's. The early Sixties sounded like a terrible time to be a woman, and many of the mental institutions were anything but conducive to healing. Nevertheless, I don't buy the defensive rebel's libertarian spiel that they should just be left alone to hurt themselves, uninterrupted. Perhaps Susanna wanted to criticize her diagnosis or how she was treated, but claiming that her acts of self-harm warranted no such "interruption" with treatment seems rather dramatic and ungrateful. The adolescent glorification of the misunderstood, self-harming Plath-like waif is both dangerous and very selfish, and there are scores of books and songs and films to help this glorification along. I hope girls who read this book are smart enough not to fall for it, but can still enjoy her moments of poetic greatness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karlyflower *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*

    I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent. Insanity. For most of us the idea of being insane is scary. The harder question is the why; why is insanity so scary? Is it so scary because we have all, at one time or another (I believe), doubted our own sanity? I know I have. Or is it so scary because it is so impossible to define, to categorize in absolutes? When is the threshold at its thinnest? In the moments when my brain launches like a freight train into a statio I told her once I wasn’t good at anything. She told me survival is a talent. Insanity. For most of us the idea of being insane is scary. The harder question is the why; why is insanity so scary? Is it so scary because we have all, at one time or another (I believe), doubted our own sanity? I know I have. Or is it so scary because it is so impossible to define, to categorize in absolutes? When is the threshold at its thinnest? In the moments when my brain launches like a freight train into a station, yet in about a dozen different ways, at 4 o’clock in the morning when I have been exhausted and unable to sleep all day? In the inner conversations I have with myself, or other people, inside my own head that never see the light of day? What does it really mean to be crazy?? In the quiet nectar of a cup of coffee in the morning when the fog is tumbling lazily over my brain making everything just a little less ‘real’ feeling? Is it true what they say; the more you question your own sanity the less likely you are, in fact, to be insane? If so Susanna Kaysen is definitely NOT insane. She questions everything and has probably one of the most introspective voices I have ever read. Her thoughts, expressed superbly in Girl, Interrupted, are well thought out and certainly sane sounding. Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is… Crazy isn’t being broken or swallowing a dark secret. It’s you or me amplified. If you ever told a lie and enjoyed it. If you ever wished you could be a child forever. They were not perfect, but they were my friends. What is insanity?! Is it a true state of being or is it a mind’s reaction to an unnatural state of existence? Fore how natural is it really to exist in a world constantly defining you for you, where it is more important to seem something than truly BE it. Perhaps we will never really know, certainly (even now, far removed from the dates Kaysen found herself at home in an institution) there are far more questions than answers. Category: A Memoir

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ellabella

    We're told not to, but I sometimes do judge a book by its cover. At least once in my life, it has paid off. I first read this book because I saw it laying under the desk of a girl in my French class in 8th grade and was immediately attracted to it- the constrast of blue against white and the separation and duality of the girl between. It was beautiful and strange and thought-provoking and somehow irrationally felt as close to me as some crazy friend who'd been trapped in my own brain for thirteen We're told not to, but I sometimes do judge a book by its cover. At least once in my life, it has paid off. I first read this book because I saw it laying under the desk of a girl in my French class in 8th grade and was immediately attracted to it- the constrast of blue against white and the separation and duality of the girl between. It was beautiful and strange and thought-provoking and somehow irrationally felt as close to me as some crazy friend who'd been trapped in my own brain for thirteen years. The author at once seemed to be a part of me that hadn't yet been able to speak, and a complete stranger who frightened and compelled me. I've returned to it time and time again and each time have found new truths and new absurdities. It so accurately and curiously expresses the truths of a mind in distress and the questioning of a woman in the making (and particularly of a woman approaching adulthood in the 1960's, while psychology was still a relatively new field). I lead a book club discussion of it some years ago and was startled at the stark honesty that it inspired in us as we talked, regardless of whether we actually liked the book or not. To me, the book has nearly no relation to the movie other than the slight similarities between the premises. Where the movie may introduce you to interesting characters and attempt to give you a linear story, it has no way to bring you into the complex and contradictory inner world of the author. I will recommend to anyone to give it a try, because I believe what you discover in it speaks not of the book itself, but of who you as the reader are.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tara Lynn

    Saw the movie, loved Angelina in it. Now I'll tackle the book. Update: Finished the novel. I'm now convinced that the publication and fantastic reception of this novel was probably a great case of timing. Kaysen's account of her stay in McLean Hospital is a captivating look into her mental state during her 2 year stay. However, I've got to say that if she had stayed elsewhere, or tried to publish her account now, it probably wouldn't have been received as favorably. For the most part, many of he Saw the movie, loved Angelina in it. Now I'll tackle the book. Update: Finished the novel. I'm now convinced that the publication and fantastic reception of this novel was probably a great case of timing. Kaysen's account of her stay in McLean Hospital is a captivating look into her mental state during her 2 year stay. However, I've got to say that if she had stayed elsewhere, or tried to publish her account now, it probably wouldn't have been received as favorably. For the most part, many of her intermittent stories read as a desperate cry for attention, ANY attention. Her parents are NEVER mentioned, and I find it odd to see that the novel has no seeming beginning or end. We're given a VERY brief description of her original interview, as well as interesting reproductions of her case files, but her rambling thoughts throughout give no impression of how she actually responded to her therapy. I'm sad to say that I honestly expected more. Susanna's desperate hero-worship of her friend Lisa, her wild behavior, and her desperate attempts to receive attention from anyone tell me that far from requiring a hospital stay, she needed a hug, some coffee, and a good friend/parent to tell her that she was being an idiot about her life. I've seen more self-actualization on some Twitter ramblings than I saw in Girl, Interrupted. Not worth the read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Britany

    3.5 Stars I've always been fascinated with mental health and when this movie came out, it was one that I watched time and time again. I never realized it was a book, and not only that but a true account from Susanna Kaysen. The book is short, and cuts right to the point. The chapters are set up like thoughts or short concepts that Susanna wants to share. The movie does a great job of sticking close to the book and I was impressed with how closely they matched. Susanna finds herself sent to Belmon 3.5 Stars I've always been fascinated with mental health and when this movie came out, it was one that I watched time and time again. I never realized it was a book, and not only that but a true account from Susanna Kaysen. The book is short, and cuts right to the point. The chapters are set up like thoughts or short concepts that Susanna wants to share. The movie does a great job of sticking close to the book and I was impressed with how closely they matched. Susanna finds herself sent to Belmont after an appointment with her Doctor. She certainly struggles with boredom and while her needs and desires were different from the average Cambridge resident, certainly not enough to commit her to an asylum. I'm glad that I picked this one up and if you are interested in the subject matter, I would urge you to do the same.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glitterbomb

    “I was trying to explain my situation to myself. My situation was that I was in pain and nobody knew it, even I had trouble knowing it. So I told myself, over and over, You are in pain. It was the only way I could get through to myself. I was demonstrating externally and irrefutably an inward condition.” Amen to that. Look, this is a book where, if you already suffer from a mental health issue, you will get it. You will draw parallels in your own life and experiences. You will nod in agreement a “I was trying to explain my situation to myself. My situation was that I was in pain and nobody knew it, even I had trouble knowing it. So I told myself, over and over, You are in pain. It was the only way I could get through to myself. I was demonstrating externally and irrefutably an inward condition.” Amen to that. Look, this is a book where, if you already suffer from a mental health issue, you will get it. You will draw parallels in your own life and experiences. You will nod in agreement at the internalisation, the questions, the doubt. Absolutely nothing has changed there, from the 60's to today, and it never will. Its the nature of the beast. Having a mental health issue is all about doubt. If, you're on the other side of this, if you have perfect mental health (nobody does, but stay with me here), you probably wont understand this, and because you don't understand it, you probably wont enjoy it. And there's nothing wrong with that. Absolutely nothing. Thanks to recent campaigns to draw awareness to mental health conditions, people these days are somewhat more receptive to the idea of others who's minds don't quite work the same way theirs do. But, we are nowhere near where we need to be in regards to this issue. Nowhere near. This is a very brave story, published in an era when mental health wasn't talked about. Period. It may be somewhat outdated in respect to modern diagnosis' and treatments, but the feelings are all the same. This book is so honest, and that shines through in every single sentence. It spoke to me, and I hope it speaks to you too.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sh3llraiser (grumpybookgrrrl)

    I read this book around the time the movie came out. I remember liking it, but not loving it. I'm curious to maybe do a re-read one day. I kind of felt like it was one of those books that got a lot of hype and didn't live up to it. I liked the movie. If I ever do a re-read, I'll add to this. I don't remember much, to be honest, except that it didn't blow me away. I bought the book and I ended up over the years donating it to a thrift store. So, I must not have liked it that much. :P

  16. 5 out of 5

    Naomi

    This book was a memoir of Susanna Kaysen's time in a mental institution and it was written in homodiegetic narration. When I first started this book I thought it would be an excellent insight into the damaged mind of a young eighteen year-old girl and I was looking forward to the intriguing thoughts of a mentally ill person. However, I found that the book mostly focused on the author's time in the mental institution and I did not get a sense of how the illness affected herself. Kaysen mainly desc This book was a memoir of Susanna Kaysen's time in a mental institution and it was written in homodiegetic narration. When I first started this book I thought it would be an excellent insight into the damaged mind of a young eighteen year-old girl and I was looking forward to the intriguing thoughts of a mentally ill person. However, I found that the book mostly focused on the author's time in the mental institution and I did not get a sense of how the illness affected herself. Kaysen mainly described the other people she lived with and not so much about her own progress or life. Furthermore, the chapters seemed to jump around a lot so there was no sense of chronology or order; perhaps this was meant to reflect how Kaysen's mind was chaotic and unstable but I found this quite annoying, making the book difficult to enjoy. The writing style was simplistic and uninteresting making this novel an easy read. I also found that I did not connect or feel empathetic with the author despite the personal depiction of her story, which disheartened me somewhat as I hoped that I would feel deeply moved by her tale; realistically I felt bored and disconnected. One aspect I did like was the insertion of real documents from the doctor's notes which were intriguing and informative. Moreover, it gave me a greater understanding of the process of a mental institution, and I felt some pathos for the characters because their conditions were piteous. In addition, Kaysen wrote how people treated them as unhuman which moved me slightly as mental illness is not something to scorn or mock but a very serious disorder. The isolated situation of these people made me more aware of the prejudice surrounding mental illness and the way people instantly judge one who has dealt with a mental disorder; they tend to avoid them and feel scared or uneasy. Overall, I did not enjoy this book very much, although at times it was quite informative and it was also interesting to see how living in a mental institution was like in the 1960s.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Amy | shoutame

    An interesting look in to a subject of which I have little knowledge. Susanna Kaysen shares her experience of living in a woman's mental institution for two years during the 1960's when she was 18 years old. This was a very quick and easy read - the narrative is broken up with scanned documents from Susanna's case and she discusses what the doctors and nurses have to say about her. I wasn't blown away by this novel- I think I just expected a little more from it. I found the topic to be very inter An interesting look in to a subject of which I have little knowledge. Susanna Kaysen shares her experience of living in a woman's mental institution for two years during the 1960's when she was 18 years old. This was a very quick and easy read - the narrative is broken up with scanned documents from Susanna's case and she discusses what the doctors and nurses have to say about her. I wasn't blown away by this novel- I think I just expected a little more from it. I found the topic to be very interesting and I would love some recommendations for other books of this sort. I would recommend to any who have an interest in psychology and the treatment of mental health issues in the 1960's.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Neelam Babul

    Mental Illness is always viewed with stigma and scorn even today. The first thought that comes to our mind when we hear the term is the word "mad."However, not every person who is diagnosed with a mental illness is mad. The book follows Susanna Kaysen, who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when she was just 17 years old. Once hospitalized, she befriends her inmates and together we get a glimpse of their lives and struggles. Definitely, a book that everyone needs to read at least o Mental Illness is always viewed with stigma and scorn even today. The first thought that comes to our mind when we hear the term is the word "mad."However, not every person who is diagnosed with a mental illness is mad. The book follows Susanna Kaysen, who is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder when she was just 17 years old. Once hospitalized, she befriends her inmates and together we get a glimpse of their lives and struggles. Definitely, a book that everyone needs to read at least once in their lifetime.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sa

    Kaysen's memoir paints a picture of a girl whose mental health is alternately proven through vivid awareness of the world around her, and disputed by accounts of self-harm and detachment. It's interesting to note the similar war between those who have read this book. Half of them conclude that she was a confused and directionless young woman whose stint in McLean was the result of an intolerant society and a psychological field still in its kneejerk infancy. They wonder, could that have been me? Kaysen's memoir paints a picture of a girl whose mental health is alternately proven through vivid awareness of the world around her, and disputed by accounts of self-harm and detachment. It's interesting to note the similar war between those who have read this book. Half of them conclude that she was a confused and directionless young woman whose stint in McLean was the result of an intolerant society and a psychological field still in its kneejerk infancy. They wonder, could that have been me? They come away shocked that such small acts of defiance by an obviously lucid person could have such a disproportionate response. The remaining readers believe Kaysen, although honest and aware in her storytelling, was truly ill. They also wonder, could that have been me? But it is different from the first group, because they see their own doubts about their mental health, their own oddities and their own struggles reflected in the girls of McLean. The effect this book will have on you depends on how you define sanity.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Mia (Parentheses Enthusiast)

    I wonder if I dislike “collection of vignettes” books because they are actually inferior to books with plots or because I’m just jealous that an author can be successful despite their book being a string of unconnected scenes lacking in depth and detail. Whatever the case, my main gripe with this book—that it follows that very unconnected structure and is told out of chronological order—can be justified by the simple fact that its intent is to disorient, and it achieves this end admirably. I don’ I wonder if I dislike “collection of vignettes” books because they are actually inferior to books with plots or because I’m just jealous that an author can be successful despite their book being a string of unconnected scenes lacking in depth and detail. Whatever the case, my main gripe with this book—that it follows that very unconnected structure and is told out of chronological order—can be justified by the simple fact that its intent is to disorient, and it achieves this end admirably. I don’t think the intent was also to emotionally alienate the reader, although that’s certainly how I felt. For this being a memoir, Susanna seems incredibly distanced from—and even bored by—the events she describes. The best chapters are the philosophical ones, where she ruminates on the nature of madness and the many ways it can manifest. These, ultimately, are what redeemed the book and why it gets three stars from me. Susanna can be incredibly insightful and descriptive when she wants to be, but she mostly seems content skidding by on the surface of things without making any effort at character development, description, or tone-setting. It is told plainly and with a flat affect, as disinterested as a tranquilised psychiatric patient, content to loll in a ratty easy chair and stare mindlessly at the TV. There is no colour to this book. If I had to assign it a colour, it would be the colour of dryer lint, or bathroom walls in that specific tone of beige that must have been manufactured in purgatory to desiccate your very soul. Perhaps this is all meant to give the reader the most realistic possible feeling of being confined in a mental institution in the 1960s: the boredom, the listlessness, the lack of a unifying theme or plot. I can’t say whether or not it succeeds—but I certainly feel sedated after reading it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Dree

    Disappointing. While there were some entertaining parts, I found the whole book strangely cold and lacking. The author gives virtually no insights whatsoever into her own illnes, or really how she felt about the whole situation. She came across a little like a spoilt ungrateful rich kid, which granted, at some point she does make a semi reference to. I could not really comprehend I what she was trying to do with this book,or who she was at all. I felt like she was telling the stories of those ar Disappointing. While there were some entertaining parts, I found the whole book strangely cold and lacking. The author gives virtually no insights whatsoever into her own illnes, or really how she felt about the whole situation. She came across a little like a spoilt ungrateful rich kid, which granted, at some point she does make a semi reference to. I could not really comprehend I what she was trying to do with this book,or who she was at all. I felt like she was telling the stories of those around her because she didn't want to talk about her own. Her parents and life outside the hospital are barely even mentioned, it felt to me like very defensive writing. You know, I'll write a book about my time in a mental hospital without actually writing about my time in in a mental hospital I can't understand the hype around this one at all. The only thing I can put it down to, it's that the people that love it have not read many books about mental illness. Try " One flew over the cuckoos nest" or heck, even "Prozac nation"

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sammy

    I've watched the movie multiple times, and loved it; but I'm sad to say this is one of the times that the movie adaption was far superior to the book. I enjoyed the insight, and as someone with a BPD diagnosis I definitely recognised patterns of thought or behaviours that felt familiar to me, but I feel as if it didn't move me as much as I was hoping it would. Reading this has definitely motivated me to look deeper into literature focusing on mental illness, and more specifically BPD, but for no I've watched the movie multiple times, and loved it; but I'm sad to say this is one of the times that the movie adaption was far superior to the book. I enjoyed the insight, and as someone with a BPD diagnosis I definitely recognised patterns of thought or behaviours that felt familiar to me, but I feel as if it didn't move me as much as I was hoping it would. Reading this has definitely motivated me to look deeper into literature focusing on mental illness, and more specifically BPD, but for now I'm leaving this one with a rating of 3.5/5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cody | codysbookshelf

    Girl, Interrupted was on my TBR for a long time, and I'm glad to say I've finally gotten around to reading it. I didn't realize it's non-fiction until recently. It details the author's stay in a psych ward that stretched on for eighteen months during the sixties. Pretty fascinating stuff, especially to this history lover. I must admit I had a hard time letting myself get drawn into this book. I couldn't get a clear grasp on the characters and the whole thing felt rushed, episodic. I'm glad I rea Girl, Interrupted was on my TBR for a long time, and I'm glad to say I've finally gotten around to reading it. I didn't realize it's non-fiction until recently. It details the author's stay in a psych ward that stretched on for eighteen months during the sixties. Pretty fascinating stuff, especially to this history lover. I must admit I had a hard time letting myself get drawn into this book. I couldn't get a clear grasp on the characters and the whole thing felt rushed, episodic. I'm glad I read this, and I will certainly check out the movie; but it is not a book I care to ever reread.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kellie

    -This is 2 books in a row I have read about mental illness. I don’t mean to be harsh here but I did not like this book at all. It was a lot like An Unquiet Mind. It seemed sporadic and cold. Maybe because it was written from the point of view from a person who has mental illness. Maybe the difficulty is with organizing thoughts and time. I am not sure but for me, it was a difficult read. I also found it odd that Susanna said very little about her family. This was a book about her but I find it h -This is 2 books in a row I have read about mental illness. I don’t mean to be harsh here but I did not like this book at all. It was a lot like An Unquiet Mind. It seemed sporadic and cold. Maybe because it was written from the point of view from a person who has mental illness. Maybe the difficulty is with organizing thoughts and time. I am not sure but for me, it was a difficult read. I also found it odd that Susanna said very little about her family. This was a book about her but I find it hard to believe that her family did not have any impact on her mental state. I am still interested in seeing this movie. I can’t imagine it would follow the book too closely. I will give credit where credit is due however. I give these ladies kudos for being very open and honest about their illness and sharing it with the public. It takes guts and I am sure it is an emotional risk. Bravo! For your courage!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Estelle

    Being a big fan of the movie adaptation, I've always been curious to check out the book. Well, now that I finished reading it, I don't feel like I've gained anything from it. It was a very short and easy read, there wasn't anything special about the writing style, and as a whole it felt rather... empty. Kaysen recollects little stories and observations from her time at McLean, but there's a lot of jumping around and no real sense of chronology which makes it difficult to follow or even care. It Being a big fan of the movie adaptation, I've always been curious to check out the book. Well, now that I finished reading it, I don't feel like I've gained anything from it. It was a very short and easy read, there wasn't anything special about the writing style, and as a whole it felt rather... empty. Kaysen recollects little stories and observations from her time at McLean, but there's a lot of jumping around and no real sense of chronology which makes it difficult to follow or even care. It was all too disjointed for my taste. I also had difficulty relating or emphasizing with the narrator, which is a shame when reading a memoir. Can't say I would recommend this book. Watch the movie instead, it has a lot more heart and soul.

  26. 5 out of 5

    BAM The Bibliomaniac

    I totally related to this tale. I was diagnosed bipolar in 2007 and attended an outpatient program 5 days a week at the locally known "looney bin". It's something that never leaves you. However, it seems to me that she may have been given a bullshit 1960s diagnosis. Most of what she described is experienced by the majority of the young adult population. I'm proud of her for not letting these 3 years define her life. She became who she wanted to be, warts and all. No one is perfect. Life isn't ro I totally related to this tale. I was diagnosed bipolar in 2007 and attended an outpatient program 5 days a week at the locally known "looney bin". It's something that never leaves you. However, it seems to me that she may have been given a bullshit 1960s diagnosis. Most of what she described is experienced by the majority of the young adult population. I'm proud of her for not letting these 3 years define her life. She became who she wanted to be, warts and all. No one is perfect. Life isn't rose colored. Some of us accept this (and take our meds).

  27. 4 out of 5

    April (Aprilius Maximus)

    This probably wasn't the best book to read while currently trying to recover from mental illness, but I honestly just felt nothing for this book. I felt like the attachment between the writer and the reader that is supposed to be there wasn't there at all. I also couldn't understand some of the scans of the documents as the writing was ineligible, at least for me. This book was such a disappointment, especially after the HUGE impact that Prozac Nation left on me.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carol

    This was a quick read but excellently written. I saw the movie years ago, which is different than the book. Also, I read this after reading I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Bottom line is that it's not easy being an adolescent/young adult female in any day or time period. There are so many changes encountered while growing up and becoming an adult that it is very difficult to adjust to the changes and make the transition to being a successful, independent person.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Janel

    Having seen the film prior to reading the book, this review will read as somewhat of a comparison between the two. My first thought upon finishing this memoir was that I would have liked it better had I not seen the film, I think I was too influenced by the film. So my first recommendation would be if you haven’t seen the film yet, do read the book first. One of the things I liked about this book is it’s Susanna Kaysen’s story; now that may seem an odd thing to say since it’s Kaysen’s memoir, but Having seen the film prior to reading the book, this review will read as somewhat of a comparison between the two. My first thought upon finishing this memoir was that I would have liked it better had I not seen the film, I think I was too influenced by the film. So my first recommendation would be if you haven’t seen the film yet, do read the book first. One of the things I liked about this book is it’s Susanna Kaysen’s story; now that may seem an odd thing to say since it’s Kaysen’s memoir, but having watched the film, Susanna may have been the main character but it was Lisa, a fellow patient, who was the main attraction. Winona Ryder is an amazing actress but Angelina Jolie owned that film! So what this memoir does is, it strips away the entertainment factor, the brilliant portrayal of Jolie acting as Lisa, and allows us to focus solely on Kaysen. If you’ve seen the film already and choose to read this memoir, you won’t be able to help but compare the portrayal of the characters in the book to what you’ve seen on the screen, and you’ll find it much less entertaining. For some, the removal of this dramatisation will be majorly appealing as it may feel like a truer account of Kaysen’s experience, whereas others may miss the drama the film delivers. For me personally, I preferred the film, I won’t deny I loved Jolie in the film; she was so worthy of that Best Supporting Actress Oscar! But the reason I preferred the film is because the memoir read a little haphazardly in places. I really liked the beginning, and found it interesting to read about Kaysen’s experience in the psychiatric institute. As a mental health nursing student, the running of the ward in particular was really interesting to me, to see how different healthcare delivery was then, compared to today. This memoir gives glimpses into Kaysen’s experience, it’s not a full detailed account of her year and a half in hospital – I didn’t mind that at all, but towards the end of the memoir, I felt the style of the writing changed from an informative account to Kaysen’s musings, particularly the chapter titled Mind vs Brain, it just read a bit disjointed to me. And while someone should absolutely include their musings in their memoir, it’s theirs after all, it shouldn’t happen in a way that distances the reader. I’m someone who looks for the personal element in nonfiction, rather than a more scientific approach, but here I preferred the account of what happened (ward rules, schedules, reason for patient’s admission, etc) rather than her musings. Although, I must say I did really like how Kaysen explained her diagnosis, borderline personality disorder, and then looked for comparison between herself and the characteristics of the diagnosis. Overall, I’m happy to have finally read this memoir, and as mentioned earlier, it’s a shame I didn’t read it prior to watching the film so I had no pre-emptive notions of anything. It was good to read Kaysen’s experience in her own words (and see how true to the book the film was). Also, I love the title of this memoir, so it was great to learn where it came from and why Kaysen chose it. If you’re looking for a quick read (170 pages, edition dependent) of a young girls account of her experience in a psychiatric institute and her life shortly after, I have no reservations recommending this book, but if it’s a choice between the book or the film – I’m going with the film.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Katie Pohling

    “Are you crazy? It’s a common phrase, I know. But it means something particular to me: the tunnels, the security screens, the plastic forks, the shimmering, ever-shifting borderline that like all boundaries beckons and asks to be crossed. I do not want to cross it again” (159). Girl, Interrupted is a memoir regarding Susanna Kaysen and her overall journey as a medical patient in her late teens. In 1967, Susanna was an ordinary eighteen year old until she attempted to commit suicide by swallowi “Are you crazy? It’s a common phrase, I know. But it means something particular to me: the tunnels, the security screens, the plastic forks, the shimmering, ever-shifting borderline that like all boundaries beckons and asks to be crossed. I do not want to cross it again” (159). Girl, Interrupted is a memoir regarding Susanna Kaysen and her overall journey as a medical patient in her late teens. In 1967, Susanna was an ordinary eighteen year old until she attempted to commit suicide by swallowing 50 Aspirin. Quickly transforming her life, Kaysen soon finds herself staying at McLean Hospital in Massachusetts for a little over two years. Being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, she was put in a Ward for teenage girls in the psychiatric hospital. At first suffering to get used to her new home (aka “Looney bin”), Kaysen describes several of her fellow patients as the book progresses. Consisting of Lisa (Sociopath), Cynthia (depressive), Georgina (Schizophrenic), Polly (Schizophrenic) and more, Susanna explains their personal story, their behavior, their habits, their attitude and their overall personality as their friendship develops. At first, she felt “Emptiness and boredom: what an understatement. What I felt was complete desolation. Desolation, despair, and depression” (157), but she soon grew closer to not only her patient friends, but also her nurses. Something that stood out to me was the authors writing style. Having several short chapters made it interesting and it showed how clear and bold her writing was. Having to describe a whole experience or story in around 3 pages or less illustrated her use of words in an understandable manner. I was able to really feel her pain and feelings as I read page by page which I often don’t get to experience. Something I enjoyed about this book was the use of emotions and how the author was capable of transitioning so quickly. Chapters were going from her being extremely angry and irritated about her “Looney bin” but also having particularly happy and uplifting chapters; either about her thoughts of the future or her patient friends caring for her. It was also interesting to find out that it was a memoir and reading it knowing all this was true and it happened to the author was very appealing. The overall story didn’t have a very distinct plot, but I always wanted to read more and more. The events didn’t directly go in chronological order, but learning about new characters and new events were very intriguing to read about. As a whole, this novel was well written and well executed, from the language, to the characters, to the stories, etc, it was a generally great read. I’m not the best reader and I also don’t read as much an average teenage girl should, (difficult task to engage in a book), which is why I admire this book. I would definitely recommend it to anyone but especially to people who have a wide imaginations and to people who just enjoy a well written but fast read. I’m dying to see the movie and compare! Heard it’s really good, even better than the book ;)

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