Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Borderline Personality

Girl, Interrupted

Written by: Susanna Kaysen

Released: January 1, 1993 by Random House

Summary: 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.

I was incredibly lucky to find a brand new copy of this novel at a used book store for only a few dollars. I’ve wanted to read it ever since I found out that the movie was based on this memoir. Let me tell you, I’m pretty sure that this novel cemented my belief that I’m rather sane.

But let me expand on that.

While reading this novel there were several parts that I found hard to follow. Those parts just seemed jumbled – as was the chronology for a lot of the book – and I had to really take my time to read it to get the basic meaning. I think that if I wasn't of sound mind that it would have made a little more sense.

However, this was an amazingly written book and the fact that it was a little jumbled just added to the content and the overall experience of reading it. And I really did enjoy reading this book.

The insight that this book gave me was phenomenal and the emotions that it evoke while reading it are second to none. I loved reading about Susanna’s experience and her time spent in the institution. I found myself inhaling the pages in an effort to find out what happened next even faster.

While reading this, the one question that I kept asking myself ‘was she really crazy?’ and that was the question that haunted me throughout the entire novel and still now has me wondering. At some points I thought that maybe she really was, but then I can’t help but think that she was just overwhelmed and no one wanted to really help her so they shoved her in a hospital so that she was out of the way. It then could be possible that she became slightly crazy from being institutionalized. But whatever the answer, to see how obviously the entire experience was overcome in the end was fantastic.

I would greatly recommend this to pretty much anyone who would be mature enough to handle to content. It does deal with some subject matter that some people wouldn’t be comfortable reading about. However, if you give it a chance, this is a great book and I’m giving it an 8/10.

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