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Is Susana Kaysen a Trusted Source in Girl Interrupted?

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Is Susana Kaysen a Trusted Source in Girl, Interrupted?

Girl, Interrupted is a book written by Susanna Kaysen in 1993 in which she relates her experiences in McLean Mental Hospital, where she got locked in 1967, until 1969 because she suffered from a mental disorder. Aware of her mental illness, Kaysen does an immense effort to narrate her experiences during her stay at McLean hospital as descriptive and objective as she can be in her book. However, her Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) and the time gap between the events and the writing of the book lessen her credibility as a trusted source.

Despite the fact that Susanna Kaysen may have or have not finally recovered from BPD, she loses credibility as an author because in her book she narrates facts that she remembers from twenty-five years ago, when her perception of reality was distorted by her mental illness. Along with many other troubles, "People with BPD tend to see things in terms of extremes, such as either all good or all bad. Their views of other people may change quickly. A person who is looked up to one day may be looked down on the next day" (PubMed Health). According to this statement, it is very likely that Kaysen's depictions of some substantial aspects of the book are not as they really happened. Another reason to believe that events may have not taken place the way Kaysen exposes them is that she constantly displays inability to affirm and recognize reality; she reveals that "This was the main precondition, that anything might be something else. . . . How could I say for certain that I wasn't (crazy), if I couldn't say for certain that a curtain wasn't a mountain range?" (Kaysen 42). The question that possibly will go through the minds of a great deal of the audience of the book is: If she is not able to recognize the objectivity of a curtain and affirm that "anything might be something else," how can she have a clear idea of the reality that happened twenty-five years ago? Kaysen also describes numerous characters, and the relationships they had with Kaysen and among themselves. In the National Institute of Mental Health webpage asserts that "People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships," which on top of her misperception of reality, raises many questions as to the accuracy of all those relationships she describes in the book.

However, Kaysen is aware that her BPD and her past in a mental hospital may have a negative effect on her credibility as a writer, and the credibility of her book as a consequence, she explains: "The fact that I was locked up taints everything . . . He can say it because he is a doctor. If I said it, nobody would believe me" (Kaysen 151). She acknowledges that people may not believe her because of her BPD and her attempts of suicide, so she tries to appear as objective as possible when writing her book:



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