Monday, August 02, 2010

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted
By Susanna Kaysen
Publisher:Virago
Published: 2000
ISBN-13: 9781860497926
169 pages

Page 39, "Elementary Topography": Perhaps it's still unclear how I ended up in there. It must have been something more than a pimple. I didn't mention that I'd never seen that doctor before, that he decided to put me away after only fifteen minutes. Twenty, maybe. What about me was so deranged that in less than half an hour a doctor would pack me off to the nuthouse? He tricked me, thought: a couple of weeks. It was closer to two years. I was eighteen.

Girl Interrupted
is a memoir that is all of these: Poignant. Funny. Optimistic. Fascinating. Stirring. It is heartbreaking and it is memorable. It drew me in immediately and got me hooked like drug. I have not watched the movie but I knew who the actors were. Reading through the book made me do a mental match of the stars with the characters. Angelina Jolie is Lisa. Winona Ryder is Susanna. And I was right. I love Jolie. I have a girl crush on her for the longest time.

In 1967, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put into a taxi and sent to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression. There she met with the other girls in the psychiatric ward: Lisa is a sociopath, Polly set herself on fire, Daisy later committed suicide, Lisa Cody who was a newcomer was diagnosed as a sociopath much to Lisa's disdain because she was the only one before Lisa Cody came along, and Georgina was Susanna's roommate. Patient's notes with the some details blotted out to maintain privacy were included in the book, so that we could catch a glimpse of the author's condition. Profanity (mostly coming from Lisa) is also apparent in the book, but that is expected in a book of this nature.

Reading the following passages made me think. And subconsciously, there are truths in them. These are Susanna Kaysen's thoughts (p.124 and 125):
The question was, What could we do?

Could we get up every morning and take showers and put on clothes and go to work? Could we think straight? Could we not say crazy things when they occurred to us?

Some of us could, some of us couldn't. In the world's terms, though, all of us were tainted.

[...]

"You spent two years in a loony bin! Why in the world were you in there? I can't believe it!" Translation: If you're crazy, then I'm crazy, and I'm not, so the whole thing must have been a mistake.

"You spent nearly two years in a loony bin? What was wrong with you?" Translation: I need to know the particulars of craziness so I can assure myself that I'm not crazy.

"You spent nearly two years in a loony bin? Hmmm. When was that, exactly?" Translation: Are you still contagious? I stopped telling people. There was no advantage in telling people. [...]

Finally, I really like this: Sometimes the only way to stay sane is to go a little crazy. I love this book. I am glad I picked this up over the weekend when I was home on Saturday. What I would like to do next is to watch the movie.