Author(s): Susanna Kaysen
In 1967, after a session with a doctor she'd never seen before, eighteen-year-old Susanna Kaysen was put in a taxi to McLean Hospital. She spent most of the next two years on the ward for teenage girls in a psychiatric hospital that was as renowned for its famous clientele - Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell, James Taylor, and Ray Charles were among its patients - as for its progressive methods of treating those who could afford its rare sanctuary. In a series of spare, razor-sharp vignettes marked by startling black humor, "Kaysen writes as lucidly about the dark jumble inside her head as she does about the hospital routines, the staff, the patients." (Kirkus Reviews) Through her own experiences (augmented by pages from her medical record) and those of her fellow patients, Kaysen opens up the world of the hospital and questions the social and emotional assumptions that divide people into deviant or normal. More than a story of young women and madness, Girl, Interrupted is a brilliant evocation of a "parallel universe" set within the kaleidoscopically shifting landscape of the late sixties. It is a clear-sighted, unflinching historical document that gives lasting and specific dimension to our definitions of mental illness and recovery.
Susanna Kaysen is also the author of the novels Asa, As I Knew Him and Far Afield. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.