88 pages 2 hours read

Susanna Kaysen

Girl, Interrupted

Nonfiction | Autobiography / Memoir | Adult | Published in 1993

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Girl, Interrupted

  • Genre: Memoir
  • Originally Published: 1993
  • Reading Level/Interest: Lexile level: 760L; grades 9-12; adult  
  • Structure/Length: 34 chapters; approx. 192 pages; approx. 3 hours on audio
  • Central Concern: The author recounts her experiences as a teen in the 1960s while she was a psychiatric patient at McLean Hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts. In this context, she examines society’s ambivalent definitions of mental health and illness, and the subjective nature of personality, behavior, and disorder.
  • Potential Sensitivity Issues: Mental health concerns; self-harm; institutionalization; suicide

Susanna Kaysen, Author

  • Bio: Born in 1948 in Cambridge, Massachusetts; after graduating from The Cambridge School at Weston, admitted herself to McLean Hospital at 18 upon her doctor’s urging; authored two well-received novels prior to this nonfiction work, her most popular
  • Other Works: Asa, As I Knew Him (1987); Far Afield (1990); The Camera My Mother Gave Me (2001); Cambridge (2014)

CENTRAL THEMES connected and noted throughout this Teaching Unit:

  • Perceptions of Mental Health
  • Personality and Self-Image
  • Gender and Sexism

STUDY OBJECTIVES: In accomplishing the components of this Unit, students will:

  • Develop an understanding of the subjective nature of mental health diagnoses through close engagement with the author’s questioning of her own diagnosis as depicted throughout the memoir.
  • Gain insight into the ways in which Perceptions of Mental Health and treatment in the US have changed over time through a comparison of the experiences described by the author with current treatment approaches.