Susanna Kaysen is a tormented young woman, barely coming out of her teenage years. The novel begins with her trip to the doctor where she goes into extensive detail about her newly formed pimple, and her feelings of doubt and self-consciousness.
Susanna is sent to McLean's Mental Hospital, where she is diagnosed with a "borderline personality disorder. She questions her mental state throughout the novel, and becomes wrapped up in her world of depression, pent-up anger, hate, and sadness. She makes friends with many other patients on ward. One of whom is named Lisa; a hyperactive sociopath who has been in the hospital for years.
At first, Susanna is dead set against cooperating with her physicians. She is a strong woman trapped in a diseased mind. Throughout her journey toward normality, she is forced to find her self and put the pieces back together before being admitted back into the real world.
This report prepared by Andrea
This book might well have been called Scenes from a Nuthouse. Susanna Kaysen writes this memoir of the eighteen months she spent in a mental institution right after she leaves high school. Basically, this book starts at the beginning, when a psychiatrist she is visiting for the very first time. Months earlier, we soon find out, she did try to commit suicide, by taking fifty aspirin. On this particular morning, however, his concern seems mostly to be that she's been picking at her face. Still, when he suggests she go for a "rest" at the infamous McLean Hospital (Ray Charles, James Taylor and Sylvia Plath have also stayed there), she seems relieved to go.
The chapters of this book are often set off by records from her confinement. In the beginning, she mostly talks about the other teenage women with whom she lives in what she describes as a parallel universe. She describes a girl who has set herself on fire and another who's always making trouble for the nurses and escapes whenever she can. She describes in great detail the one nurse the inmates really like and her analyst. Slowly, we learn about what it is that troubles Kaysen so, how she has trouble fitting in with her family.
Towards the end of the book, she is preparing to leave McLean.
This report prepared by Ann Gaines
It's 1967, and Susanna Kaysen in eighteen. After a short meeting with her psychiatrist she is shipped off to a mental hospital for her borderline personality disorder. She lands in the teenage girls ward. There she meets many interesting people. Lisa, the sociopath who is always trying to escape. Dais, who is in constant need of laxatives, and many others. Psychiatrists have the antagonistic role in her frank and funny commentaries on life on the ward, and while reading the stories you begin to wonder who is really crazy after all.
This report prepared by Alexandra Kuykendall