Psychoanalysis of Girl Interrupted

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Girl, Interrupted leaves you wondering what exactly Susanna Kaysen makes of her past. Clearly she looks back on it with a sense of surprise, almost wondering whether her memories really belong to her. Her memoir is a series of recollections and reflections on her time in mental hospital. She considers how she got there, and whether she belonged there. Each short chapter focuses on an aspect of her experience, and these are arranged in kind of chronological order, so as to tell her story of the people she met and the treatment she received. Kaysen's memoir was originally published in 1993, but it portrays events from 1967 to 1969. She signed herself into McLean Hospital at the age of 18, and stayed for nearly two years. Over 20 years after, she hired a lawyer to get access to the medical records giving her diagnosis, and some of these are published in the book. She questions whether she received appropriate treatment, but her answer to her own question is not clear--she certainly does not come out swinging the battle-ax of antipsychiatry. When her memoir was first published, she said in interview that she probably did need some time away from the rest of her life. But she also suspects there was sexism in the judgments made about her, especially about her "promiscuity." She suggests that the confusion she felt at that time in her life was not so unusual or unreasonable. Kaysen quotes at length the description of Borderline Personality Disorder from DSM-III-R (1987). This is the diagnosis on the admission form, dated April 27, 1967, and also on the discharge form, dated January 3, 1969, although there is also says "recovered." But we do not learn much about why she received this diagnosis. Furthermore, she does not mention that the Diagnostic Manual in use at the time of her entry into hospital was DSM-I, published in 1952. What was going wrong with her

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