Girl Interrupted Susanna Kaysen Analysis Essay

Kaysen was not committed to McLean by her parents, but the depression that landed her there seems to have resulted from her inability to measure up to their image of what she should be. As Kaysen memorably puts it in Girl, Interrupted, “Lunatics are similar to designated hitters. Often an entire family is crazy, but since an entire family can’t go into the hospital, one person is designated as crazy and goes inside.”

Kaysen does not know if she was crazy in 1967, and she does not know if she is crazy still. As she said about that period of her life in an interview, “I was desperately unhappy, but I’m not sure it’s the same thing.” Indeed, Kaysen’s diagnosis, something called “borderline personality disorder,” partakes more of a sense of social maladjustment than of mental disorder. The symptoms of this malady seem to consist of “uncertainty about several life issues,” such as self-image, sexual orientation, and long-term goals, which manifest themselves as promiscuity and excessive shopping. As one of her psychiatrists tells her, a “borderline personality” is “what they call people whose lifestyles bother them.” Kaysen cannot help but note that the diagnostic manual says that this vaguely defined mental illness is “more commonly diagnosed in women,” adding, “Note the construction of that sentence. They did not write, ‘The disorder is more common in women.’ It would still be suspect, but they didn’t even bother trying to cover their tracks.”

As Kaysen argues, most young people caught up in the turbulence of the late 1960’s suffered from what the larger society perceived as personality disorders. She makes the case for the general craziness of the times most compellingly in a chapter called “Politics,” which features a young inmate named Brad Barker. Brad has been committed because he has delusions that his father is an operative for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) who works with two individuals named Liddy and Hunt, “guys who will do anything.” As Kaysen notes, what happens in the parallel world of the loony bin is a tryout for the real world: Years later, Bernard Barker, G. Gordon Liddy, and E. Howard Hunt would be connected with the break-in at Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Although she conveys her story of her tenure at McLean with considerable irony, Kaysen does not deride her experience there. She seems to have valued, above all things, the sense of protection that it afforded her at a time in her life when she was feeling...

(The entire section is 1056 words.)

Susanna Kaysen's Journal-Memoir, Girl, Interrupted Essay example

1212 Words5 Pages

Susanna Kaysen's Journal-Memoir, Girl, Interrupted

Sane or normal people have wondered at one time or another what it is like in a hospital that houses the insane. Susanna Kaysen opens the door to the reality and true insanity of being a patient in a mental hospital renowned for famous ex-patients, including Ray Charles Sylvia Plath, and James Taylor in her book, Girl, Interrupted. She stays focused on reality and her idea of perception as well as the friendships she acquires in her two year stay at McLean Hospital and her recovery period once she is released.

Girl, Interrupted, written by Susanna Kaysen, is a documentation of her tay in a psychiatric hospital including events building up to her taxi ride to the hospital…show more content…

Susanna remembers Daisy being a seasonal patient who usually came to the hospital just before
Thanksgiving and stayed through Christmsas every year. Her two passions were laxatives and chicken. Every morning she would drum the nurse's station for her Colace or Ex-Lax and twice a week her father would bring and oven-roasted chicken baked by her mother and wrapped in aluminum foil. Daisy's father would often stay long periods of time. Lisa made the assumption that he could not believe that he had made her and wanted to have sex with her to make sure she was real. Not long after Susanna arrived, Daisy's father bought her an apartment to move into. Soon after, Daisy committed suicide. Lisa Cody was another brief character introduced who wanted to be like the original Lisa in everyway. They started out close but eventually the old Lisa got tired of it. One day Lisa Cody just disappeared never to be heard from again. On another occassion, a girl named Alice Calais was admitted to the hospital. At first she was very quiet and timid. Everyone liked her except Lisa, who did not like anyone really, and after about a month she exploded like a volcano at which point she was taken to maximum security. Susanna and her group of friends wnet to visit her one day in maximum security. Susanna describes her ward a vacation compared to maximum security which had bars on the windows, no doors on the bathrooms, and

Show More


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *