Mental Illness In Sussana Kaysen's Girl Interrupted

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While Plath fictionalised the account of her time in the mental institution in The Bell Jar, Sussana Kaysen’s Girl, Interrupted, set in 1967, is a memoir of Kaysen’s experience in the mental institution. There is a sense of ambivalence in the mental institution that seems to be oppressive yet liberating for Kaysen. In the beginning Kaysen describes a “parallel universe” which is a metaphor for mental illness and how easily one can slip into this universe that separates the sane and the insane, which is very strange. She highlights how this universe has a different set of rules and there is a cruel irony of how a person is aware that they have left reality behind and are aware of what is happening. When Kaysen is sent to the doctor for her failed…show more content…
Therefore, Kaysen is critiquing mental institutions by highlighting the cruelty of mental illness, although she did display some symptoms of borderline personality disorder this was not recurrent. The question here is whether Kaysen deserved to be diagnosed in the first place remains unanswered. Hence, writing is a form of resistance for her as she documents her life in this universe and how It is a form of therapy to help her come to terms with her diagnosis which is something she keeps coming back to in the novel. Juliet Mitchell argues “feminism in initiating a system of thought…asserts…that there is a contradiction in the social relations between men and women”(Mitchell, 1984:79). As her book was published in 1966 it relates to some of the issues that Kaysen is highlighting in her novel. Similar to The Bell Jar, Kaysen believes she is treated as ill because she is a woman in the McCarthyite era which would put women in their place in many ways such as describing them as being hysterical, unstable or assigning them with other
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