Girl Interrupted, by Kaysen

GirlInterrupted, by Kaysen

GirlInterrupted, by Kaysen

Question1:Kaysen’s symptoms that indicated she needed help

SusanKaysen was at the age of eighteen years when a surprising breadth ofexperiences drove her into a mental illness. Kaysen had alreadydropped out of school and engaged in an affair with her Englishteacher. The doctor decides that she has to be hospitalized for abouttwo years following some consultation with her. Kaysen has four majorsymptoms that make it reasonable for her to be hospitalized. First,Kaysen diagnosis indicated that she suffered from chaotic andunplanned kind of life, which was coupled with the reversal of sleepcycles and progressive de-compensation (Kaysen, 1994).

Secondly,Kaysen suffered from severe depression, suicidal ideation, andhopelessness, which put her life at risk. These symptoms were sosevere to an extent that they made Kaysen mutilate her own bodywithout being aware of what she was doing. When reading about herdiagnosis, especially a section on the self-mutilating behavior,years after hospitalization Kaysen states “This is what caught meby surprise as I sat on the floor of the bookstore reading mydiagnosis” (p. 52). This shows that the depression and hopelessnesswere severe enough to warrant Kaysen’s hospitalization.

Third,Kaysen has a history of suicidal attempts, which means that lack ofadequate medication would have culminated in her death. Suicide is apremeditated type of murder, which means that Kaysen was in constantdepression that made her think that death was the only viablesolution to her life experiences. It was necessary to hospitalizeKaysen in order to help her see life from a broader perspective.

Lastly,Kaysen suffered from progressive isolation and withdrawal (Kaysen,1994). These symptoms were affected her personal as well asprofessional life. In essence, all the four categories of symptomswere severe enough to defend the idea of Kaysen’s hospitalization.

Question4:How the story changed my view of feelings about people with mentalillness, especially those who have been hospitalized

Thestory of Kaysen and other characters and their experiences at McLeanHospital completely changed my feeling about the hospitalizedpatients who are suffering from mental illness. There are two majorfactors that contributed towards this change of feelings. First, thestory indicates that people suffering from mental illness are awareof their conditions and the way other people see them. For example,Kaysen explains how she her behavior progressed from emptiness whilestill in school and how other students seemed to be highly esteemedto severe depression (Kaysen, 1994). This implies that people areaware of the progression of their symptoms, but they cannot stopthem. The fact that these people are aware that they have beenexcluded from the society because of their mental condition makestheir health even worse. It would only be reasonable to expresscompassion and empathy to the hospitalized mentally ill patients.This is the only effective to help them realize that they have beenincarcerated in the hospital with the objective of helping themrecover from their present conditions.

Kaysengives a vivid explanation of the stigmatization that people sufferingfrom mental sicknesses undergo. Kaysen states that people who aresuffering from mental sickness are isolated and confined in 115 MillStreet (Kaysen, 1994). Although the hospital places patients in 1600Pennsylvania Avenue give the opportunity to search for jobs and otherservices, the society is not willing to accept and receive them. Forexample, Kaysen states that getting a job, drivers’ license, or anapartment is problematic because people who are expected to offerthese services do not think that they deserve these services.Therefore, it is evident that mentally ill patients are stigmatizedand isolated from the society.


Kaysen,S. (1994). Girl,interrupted.New York: Vintage.