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Girl, Interrupted (Thorndike Basic)

3.9  ·  Rating details ·  151,220 Ratings  ·  3,535 Reviews
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, and James Taylor -- as for its progressive methods of treatment ...more
Hardcover, Large Print, 222 pages
Published June 1st 2000 by Thorndike Press (first published 1993)
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Katie Sanders Both are really good!! I saw the movie before I read the book, so I knew what was going to happen. Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder are AMAZING…moreBoth are really good!! I saw the movie before I read the book, so I knew what was going to happen. Angelina Jolie and Winona Ryder are AMAZING actresses!! So they really bring the story to life!(less)
Amber Calkins About 80% of the movie, you will not find in the book. Kaysen actually disliked the movie and had little to do with it, calling it out for its…moreAbout 80% of the movie, you will not find in the book. Kaysen actually disliked the movie and had little to do with it, calling it out for its invented melodramatic plot points. While the film resonates with many, you won't find much of it in the book. Sorry!(less)
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Community Reviews

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Erin
Feb 05, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Nataliya
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who is interested in medicine or psychology
“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
...more
Kelly (and the Book Boar)
Find all of my reviews at: http://52bookminimum.blogspot.com/

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“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
...more
Navessa
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
...more
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 ...more
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". ...more
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
...more
Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)*
Feb 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Karly *The Vampire Ninja, Luminescent Monster & Wendigo Nerd Goddess of Canada (according to The Hulk)* by: Navessa
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
...more
E
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
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
...more
Ellabella
Feb 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Tara Lynn
Jan 13, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Chloe
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-and-owned
I just sat down for two hours and read this book. I've always loved the film, ever since I was a young teen and discovered it. It's only now that I've finally read the book, and it was beautiful. It's true, it's honest, it's insightful; I feel like I really understand Susanna, and I loved her voice. I may not have the same thing she was diagnosed with, but I have experienced mental illness and a lot of her psyche involves things that I can on some level relate to. It's beautifully written. I'm n ...more
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
...more
Sh3lly ✨ Bring on the Weird ✨
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
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
...more
Neelam Babul
Apr 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sa
Mar 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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?
...more
Dree
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Sammy
Apr 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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 ...more
Cody
Feb 24, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Katie Pohling
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“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
...more
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.
Carol
Mar 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Wendy
Sep 27, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The first book that I read this summer was a fiction book called “Girl, Interrupted” by Susanna Kaysen. This book was an autobiography written about Susanna and her experiences at McLean Hospital. Susanna Kaysen spent two years from the age of 18 at the ward for teenage girls in the psychiatric hospital. Those who could afford it stayed at the hospital and those who could not were sent off into the real world.
A major theme that appeared multiple times throughout this book was happiness.
Most of
...more
Erin ☕ *Proud Book Hoarder*

Such an unusual book, but I suppose it was meant to be. Really quick read due to the swift writing style, choppy chapters, and large fonts. It skips around all over the place so nothings a surprise as one chapter you learn something, and then the next chapter it's back in time again. For example, you know from the beginning how long she stays there. Nothing quite detailed in the book so you don't really get to know much about anyone either. Everything's quickly, fleetingly touched upon. When det
...more
Estelle
Jan 13, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
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 ...more
Bonnie
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

"The only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy."

After a phone call to her boyfriend to advise him of her impending suicide, Susan swallowed 50 aspirin then remembered her mother asking her to pick up milk and headed for the store. Her halfhearted suicide attempt, she states, was not an attempt at death but rather an attempt at partial suicide to get rid of the part of herself that no longer wished to live. A year later on June 15, 1967, she has an appointment with a
...more
Tricia
Feb 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally from I Write, Therefore I am Alive



Susanna Kaysen’ memoir, Girl, Interrupted. This is written in account of the author’s experiences in a mental institution and being diagnosed of having Borderline Personality Disorder. The book don’t really follow a certain storyline with chronological events but somehow covers some of it but more focused on her reflections and realization on what happened and why she ended up being institutionalized. I liked how I get into the mind of an insane—or b
...more
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Is This Book Creepy? Distrubing? 5 51 Aug 11, 2017 03:19PM  
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Mental Health Boo...: May - Girl, Interrupted 4 18 May 26, 2017 03:49PM  
The Mad Woman's B...: December 2016: 'Girl, Interrupted' by Susanna Kaysen 48 27 Jan 03, 2017 02:46AM  
Barlow College Re...: Mystery book 3 9 Oct 17, 2016 08:23AM  
Books2Movies Club: Girl, Interrupted 8 15 Aug 07, 2016 12:32PM  
Play Book Tag: Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen - Four Stars 6 19 Jul 22, 2016 12:28PM  
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Susanna Kaysen is an American author.

Kaysen was born and raised in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Kaysen attended high school at the Commonwealth School in Boston and the Cambridge School before being sent to McLean Hospital in 1967 to undergo psychiatric treatment for depression. It was there she was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She was released after eighteen months. She later drew
...more
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“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.” 800 likes
“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.” 797 likes
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