Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen book review

Girl Interrupted is a memoir by American author Susanna Kaysen of her time when she suffered with depression and was sent to a psychiatric unit with other women during the 1960s. It’s an interesting reminder of how far we have come with the support for mental health.

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I’ll be honest, I didn’t know this was a memoir going into and I still didn’t even know when I finished it. That’s the deal with some of these memoirs, they’re often written with such detail that you think they’re fictional stories as you think how on earn they could have remembered so many elements in such detail.

Girl, Interrupted plot – 3.75/5

The story of Girl, Interrupted follows Susanna Kaysen herself as, at 18 years old she attempts to commit suicide after dealing with depression and, despite trying to deny it, she ends up getting admitted to McLean Hospital. She is then diagnosed with borderline personality disorder which brings her time at the hospital to 18 months.

During her time there she meets multiple other people who make her experience much better than she thought it was going to be. She also starts to question whether the methods the doctors and nurses are using are doing any good at all for the patients.

I’ll be honest, a lot of the book passed me by. It’s quite short and not a topic that I have a vast amount of interest in. However, there were some very interesting topics discussed including what exactly classifies as mental health illness and what may well have been caused by the environment she was in.

Girl, Interrupted characters – 4/5

Throughout her time at McLean Hospital, Kaysen meets quite a few different women who open her eyes to the different sides to mental health but who also help her get through her time there. Having strong mental difficulties, they have some big personalities, often causing some big moments in the plot too.

There are a couple who Kaysen becomes closer with during her time and who she meets years later too which is nice to know.

The whole message throughout he whole memoir seems to focus on whether their time a the hospital has actually helped these women in any way at all or whether it simply served as a way to possibly exacerbate their conditions or even just stall their recoveries that could have been served by age, growing up and other external factors.

Girl, Interrupted final rating – 3.75/5

Girl, Interrupted covers an interesting topic on mental health. It tells a story of a time when mental health was dealt with vastly differently to today’s far more mature and sensitive methods. However, some of the topics discussed and views taken could still be considered today. Despite the interesting ideas and the more interesting characters Kaysen met throughout her life, it’s not a memoir that’s going to stay with me for very long as I just didn’t find it that fascinating.

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2 thoughts on “Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen book review

  • An autobiographical work, the book tells about the two years that the author spent at the age of 18 at the McLean Mental Hospital. With emotional insight and brave sincerity, Kaysen examines his struggle with mental disorders and society’s view of him in depth. The book fascinates readers with a sensitive approach to mental health issues and an impressive style.

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