Book Club: Girl, Interrupted

Am I crazy?

This is the question Susanna Kaysen continues to ask herself to this day, according to her 1993 memoir Girl, Interrupted.  The memoir documents her two-year stay at psychiatric McLean Hospital in the 1960s, where she checked herself in after a therapy session when she was 18 years old.  Kaysen was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder after attempting suicide by taking several aspirin and then passing out. 

The book contains many interesting characters, made that much more interesting based on the fact that they are real people.  Kaysen writes about her group of friends: a sociopath, two schizophrenics, a drug addict, and an obsessive compulsive.  The book doesn't have any major plot; instead, it focuses on the human condition of the patients and the nurses.  The lines are so blurred between the two that the reader begins to question who the crazy ones really are.

It's a quick read (I got through it in one day), but an enjoyable one.  While Kaysen spends most of the book documenting particular instances with startling clarity and unsuspecting comedy, she closes with a brief analysis of her own disorder and how she deals with it to this day as a successful published author, something almost no one believed she could accomplish.  It grants the reader a tremendous and humbling amount of understanding for those with mental conditions, as well as introspection. 

Am I crazy?

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