Girl, Interruped by Susanna Kaysen

Wow, what can I say? I’ve read this book a few times over the years, after watching the film adaption shortly after it was released in 1999. It had a profound effect on me the first time I read it, which is probably why I’ve revisited it so many times. It’s quite a moving book – the author doesn’t shy away from describing the awful things that happened to her while she was in the psychiatric hospital, and although I know that things have changed since she was admitted in the 1960s, it’s still a harrowing read.

I’ve always found her depictions of her fellow patients to be the most interesting part of the book. Understanding other people’s mental health problems: how they manifest themselves and the impact they have on behaviour is notoriously difficult, yet it seems to come naturally to the author.

I’ve also always enjoyed the questions the book asks – it really makes me question the definitions of sanity and insanity what we just willingly accept. The book has aged really well, and is a poignant reminder that inpatients in psychiatric hospitals are people, just like everyone else. They deserve compassion, respect and care.

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