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Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
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Girl, Interrupted (original 1993; edition 1994)

by Susanna Kaysen (Author)

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7,1001181,149 (3.64)132
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 on 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.… (more)
Member:Chicharro
Title:Girl, Interrupted
Authors:Susanna Kaysen (Author)
Info:Vintage (1994), 192 pages
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Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen (1993)

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» See also 132 mentions

English (115)  Italian (1)  German (1)  All languages (117)
Showing 1-5 of 115 (next | show all)
It was good to get an inside view of borderline personality disorder and the inside of a psych ward. I liked how short the book was - but at the same time Kaysen just briefly mentions some of her experiences. There was some good reflection at the end of the book too. ( )
  HeartofGold900 | Dec 3, 2022 |
4,75★ (Dec/2017 #readathonbyzoe)

world ★★★★★
characters ★★★★★
tension/pace ★★★★
relationships ★★★★
themes ★★★★★
story/plot ★★★★
writing ★★★★★
dialogue ★★★★
emotion/humor ★★★★
credibility ★★★★★

I was worried this book might have lost some of it's appeal over the years, but I still really enjoy it. Something about the writing style just pulls me in and (because I've watched the movie several times) the character also seem very real in my head. Thoroughly enjoyable ( )
  tuusannuuska | Dec 1, 2022 |
Susanna Kaysen’s memoir about her 1967-1968 stay in McLean Hospital in Massachusetts. At age eighteen, Susanna was put into a taxi by her therapist and ended up voluntarily admitting herself to a mental hospital. She was suffering from bulimia and had been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She obviously disagrees with her diagnosis and refutes it within the narrative, saying she was an adolescent going through normal teenage anxieties.

This book explores the nature of sanity, but I remain unsure of exactly what points Kaysen is trying to make (other than disputing her diagnosis). Her stay in the hospital was decades ago and one can hope methods have improved since that time. Her writing style is not in any way polished. She jumps from one topic to the next without tying her ideas together. I am interested learning more about mental health and have read widely on the topic. This book falls in the middle of the pack. ( )
  Castlelass | Nov 17, 2022 |
2.5 stars
This is one case where the movie was better than the book. It's not that the book was bad, it's just that the movie was much more fleshed-out. For example, Daisy did not commit suicide when Lisa and the protagonist were at her house. Lisa and the protagonist were in the mental hospital, and Daisy was living in her apartment when she killed herself. Also, in the book, the protagonist only thought that the father was in love with her; there was never mention of him molesting her, As in the book.
Another example: in the movie The girls went down to the tunnels under the hospital and got hold of some booze, and had a "party." That didn't happen in the book; the protagonist did love going down to the tunnels, but she had to ask a nurse to accompany her down there. And there were hardly ever times where a nurse was available. When one was available, she barely had any time to stay down there with the protagonist.

Daisy is the character in the book who, in the movie, has a father who is molesting her. Her father owns a chicken producer or distributor, and so constantly brings her chicken. This really grossed me out:
" 'Daisy's room is full of chicken,' she said. 'She eats chicken in there. She has a special method she showed me. She peels all the meat off because she likes to keep the carcasses whole. Even the wings -- she peels the meat off them. Then she puts the carcass on the floor next to the last carcass. She has about nine now. She says when she's got 14 it's time to leave.'
'did she give you any chicken?' I asked.
'I didn't want any of her disgusting chicken.'
'Why does she do it?' Georgina asked.
'Hey, man,' said lisa, 'I don't know everything.'
'what about the laxatives?' Polly wanted to know.
'needs 'em. Needs 'em because of all the chicken.' "

What astounded mean throughout this book, was the fact of staying in an institution, for what seemed pretty "normal" mental conditions (except for the incest). But I guess in those days, when it cost less for medical care, people could afford these kind of "luxuries."
"And the hospital fulfilled its obligation. Somebody in our families had to pay a good deal of money for that: $60 ( 1967 dollars ) a day just for the room; therapy, drugs, and consultations were extra. 90 days was the usual length of mental hospital insurance coverage, but 90 days was barely enough to get started on a visit to McLean. My workup alone took 90 days. The price of several of those college educations I didn't want was spent on my hospitalization.
If our families stopped paying, we stopped staying and were put naked into a world we didn't know how to live in anymore. Writing a check, dialing a telephone, opening a window, locking a door- these were just a few of the things we all forgot how to do." Oh boo hoo. ( )
  burritapal | Oct 23, 2022 |
Fascinating and terrifying, Girl, Interrupted was written more than two decades after the events occurred. But with about 50 years between when Susanna Kaysen's stay in mental ward took place, it's more apparent how messed up the system was (and still is to some extent). Kaysen's subject matter is riveting, but she doesn't just rely on that - her writing is top notch as well. ( )
  Sean191 | Sep 24, 2022 |
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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 on 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.

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