Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Girl, Interrupted

Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Weight: 6.4 oz
Method of Disposal: Donating or giving away

Here is a look into what life was like in McLean in the late 60’s. If you read the blog post about the book Gracefully Insane , you will recognize that this book is about the same hospital. Susanna Kaysen spent almost two years of her life there with other teenage girls. This memoir inspired the major motion picture starring Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie. I would say that the book is better than the movie, as it almost always is. I found both the book and the movie to be okay but not incredible, though this is the best book I have read by Kaysen.

The history of mental institutions is frightening, and it is impossible not become absorbed in some of the stories that come out of them. The doctors and nurses often being described in a way that makes them seem far more “insane” than their patients, though not always. I am currently reading The Shock Doctrine by Naomi Klein, and that book opens with quite the horror story. She speaks of a young woman who went into the hospital for anxiety in the 60’s and after being tortured in the name of treatment is later labeled schizophrenic.

I am sure it will surprise no one that I bought this book sometime around the age of 16 when I was buying all sorts of Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath books. There is something about this type of memoir that attracts teenage girls. It is not totally fair because these adult women do have a story to tell that is not juvenile and that is important. It just seems to be a common theme involved in teenage angst, despite how talented, how traumatic, how brilliant, how whatever the writing may be. I guess teenage girls can relate to feeling like they do not have control of their bodies or their minds. They are empathetic to disorientation, confusion, and despair. They are growing up in a world with conflicting messages and enormous pressure.

Who knows who this book will find next. What they will be like. I hope they get something out of it.

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