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Submitted Literature

Girl, Interrupted

By Susanna Kaysen


Autobiography that was transformed into an Oscar-winning film.  Kaysen alternates memoire and copies of her hospital notes to form a distinctly depathologising narrative of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Key Themes:

  • Autobiography
  • Personality
  • Psychoanalysis
  • Revealing Reads
  • Self-Injury

Significant Quotes / Pages

15 -

“This person is (pick one):

1.      on a perilous journey from which we can learn much when he or she returns;

2.      possessed by (pick one):

a)                              the gods,

b)                              God (that is, a prophet),

c)                              some bad spirits, demons, or devils,

d)                              the Devil;

3.      a witch;

4.      bewitched ( variant of 2);

5.      bad, and must be isolated and punished;

6.      ill, and must be isolated and treated by (pick one):

a)                              purging and leeches,

b)                              removing the uterus if the person has one,

c)                              electric shock to the brain,

d)                              cold sheets wrapped tight around the body,

e)                              Thorazine or Stelazine;

7.      ill, and must spend the next seven years talking about it;

8.      a victim of society’s low tolerance for deviant behaviour;

9.      sane in an insane world;

10.  on a perilous journey from which he or she may never return”

36 – “The motive is paramount.  Without a strong motive, you’re sunk.

My motives were weak: an American-history paper I didn’t want to write and the question I’d asked months earlier, Why not kill myself?  Dead, I wouldn’t have the right to paper.  Nor would I have to keep debating the question.

The debate was wearing me out.  Once you’ve posed that question, it won’t go away.  I think many people kill themselves simply to stop the debate about whether they will or they won’t.

Anything I thought or did was immediately drawn into the debate.  Made a stupid remark-why not kill myself?  Miss the bus-better to put an end to it all.  Even the good got in there.  I liked that movie-maybe I shouldn’t kill myself.

Actually, it was only part of myself I wanted to kill: the part that wanted to kill herself, that dragged me into the suicide debate and made every window, kitchen implement, and subway station rehearsal for tragedy.

I didn’t figure this out, though, until after I’d swallowed the fifty aspirin.”



Reference: Susanna, Kaysen. 1993. Girl, Interrupted. New York: Random House, 1993


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Monday 23rd March 2009