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Girl, Interrupted Paperback


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (April 19, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679746048
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679746041
  • Product Dimensions: 3.1 x 2 x 0.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (527 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,364 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

When reality got "too dense" for 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen, she was hospitalized. It was 1967, and reality was too dense for many people. But few who are labeled mad and locked up for refusing to stick to an agreed-upon reality possess Kaysen's lucidity in sorting out a maelstrom of contrary perceptions. Her observations about hospital life are deftly rendered; often darkly funny. Her clarity about the complex province of brain and mind, of neuro-chemical activity and something more, make this book of brief essays an exquisite challenge to conventional thinking about what is normal and what is deviant.

From Publishers Weekly

Kaysen's startling account of her two-year stay at a Boston psychiatric hospital 25 years ago was an eight-week PW bestseller.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This book really makes you think a lot.
Jennifer
This book is a fast read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a good book.
Jess
Ms. Kaysen has a very engaging writing style and I plan to read her other books as well.
Gabriel Serlenga

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

95 of 98 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 1, 2000
Format: Paperback
After reading a few of the comments, which appalled me, I feel the need to comment myself. I have read the book, listened to the tape, and now seen the movie. It is NOT trying to belittle or give an actual diagnosis. This book is to free oneself (a.k.a. Kaysen) from that inner questioning. The way in which the book is written is as if it was a self journey. She did not say that BPD was not a valid disorder. However, she did imply she was not sure how she was diagnosed with the label. If you are looking for a witty piece of literature to read this is for you. It is about the trials and tribulations of one mind that is written almost poetically. However, if you are trying to find a book that can help you to understand or cope with someone who was diagnosed "BPD" this is not the book for you. I was upset by how arrogant some readers were with their comments. It is to be hoped that most of you know the difference between self help and self expression.
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103 of 109 people found the following review helpful By Debbie Lee Wesselmann TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 20, 2004
Format: Paperback
This slim memoir of a college student who suffers a "breakdown" honestly explores the details of mental illness, specifically "borderline personality" disorders. The account starts in a cold, almost frightening way: the first page is a copy of author Kaysen's case record folder. The reader then is given a fleeting description of the quiet moments leading up to Kaysen's lengthy hospitalization, and then is shown more official documents. This juxtaposition of the clinical with the personal highlights exactly what this memoir aims to express, that the darkness of mental disease has a face, a voice, that can be hidden by labels and diagnoses.

Kaysen's difficult and often terrifying journey - from the ordinary daughter of two achieving parents to a patient at a psychiatric hospital to, tentatively, a recovered young woman - is at once moving and beautiful. Even when the author asks questions that many before her have asked, she makes them seem fresh: "What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?" She explores her illness at its most intimate moments and often follows her breaks with reality with detached physician reports, giving the reader both inside and outside perspectives. Through her interactions with other patients, Kaysen makes it clear that not everyone is as fortunate as she, since some cannot extricate themselves from their illness. Interestingly, despite once not believing that she really had bones inside her, Kaysen is not convinced she was mentally ill; if nothing else, this questions the internal changes we've been taught to accept as part of the onset of mental illness.

This book should not be read by anyone believing she is slipping toward insanity, but it might be a comfort to those who have already emerged.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Alex Nichols on August 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
I saw the movie version of "Girl Interrupted" when it came out last winter in spite of the mostly negative reviews it received. I loved it, mainly because it highlighted how women can support each other through the toughest of circumstances. I then bought and read the book. The differences between the two are startling: the setting and most of the characters are the same, but the tone is quite different.
The book is mesmerizing from its first paragraph. Susanna Kaysen uses deceptively simple language to describe her experiences and the people she knew during her 18 months stay at McLean's mental hospital. We slowly come to understand the lack of humanity showed to these girls, and the confused world they came from. Ms Kaysen's spare, poetic prose is interspersed with copies of actual hospital records written at the time she was a patient. The records appear as confused as the patients they detail. They seem to detail Susanna's social interactions and levels of ease with others, as if this alone depicts signs of strong mental health. Some of them appear incomplete and neglected. One is left to wonder what exactly the professionals at this hospital were looking for: mental health or acceptable female behavior?
The book is brief, and leaves the reader with more questions than answers. How have we changed in the way we view certain types of female behavior? How have we changed in the way we view those suffering from mental illnesses? Do patients need to be cured or does the world need to be cured?
This is a remarkable book. It manages to raise awareness without giving in to self-pity. I would recommend it to anyone.
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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Jen Jen on March 23, 2000
Format: Paperback
I am only thirteen years old, and I read this book and related to it completely! I know what it's like to feel like you're all alone in this world much like Susanna Kaysen did. I have an anxiety disorder, but it is not nearly as serious as any of the mental illnesses in this book! However, the basic idea that people who are viewed as "crazy" may just be as normal as the next person you see going to work or running to catch the bus. It's great that somebody has pointed that out. When I was first diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I too felt that I was crazy and that no one would understand what I was going through. Although, I never got to the point where I wanted to commit suicide. The book was not only dramatic, it was kind of funny in a dark way. One page I was laughing at for about a half hour. SPOILER: The part where Lisa came into Daisy's room with chicken and laxatives, that cracked me up! I recommend this book to anybody who's every felt they were "crazy".
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