Girl, Interrupted

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“Girl, Interrupted” – Effects Mental Institutions Have on People Susanna Kaysen states that “[m]ental illness seems to be a communication problem between [two interpreters in your mind]” (pg 139). In Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, Kaysen is put in a mental facility at the age of 18 for a borderline personality disorder. The author is torn throughout the book if mental institutions are helping her and her fellow patients or bringing them down more. Also, the author argues that being put in a facility like this not only helps patients by teaching them independence, and helping them to build relationships with trust, but also sets them free. It is through Kaysens relationships with Lisa, Valerie, and ultimately herself that the facility is shown to slowly help patients with their social skills, communication, and trust problems. Kaysen’s relationship between her and her fellow patient Lisa is the first example of how the author argues that institutions help patients to get out and gain independence. Kaysen shows that after spending so much time in the facility, both she and Lisa are doing better; “I’m living in Brookline, I’m a suburban matron in Brookline. I’ve got the kid, I take the kid to nursery school, I’ve got an apartment. I’ve got furniture” (pg. 163). With this quote, the author establishes that not only did Lisa get out of McLean hospital, but she has a child of her own that she is taking care of very well. This demonstrates Lisa’s independence because it shows how she was able to get out of the hospital, and make a life of her own instead of depending on the attendants working at the facility. Also, Kaysen refers to a few incidents where Lisa is put in seclusion and kept away from the other patients for a couple days; “Seclusion worked. After a day or night in there with nothing to do, most people calmed down” (pg 47). This quote from the novel demonstrates how being in isolation and having some time to your own thoughts can help those with mental...
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