full title Girl, Interrupted

author Susanna Kaysen

type of work Memoir

genre Memoir; autobiography

language English

time and place written Early 1990s; Cambridge, Massachusetts

date of first publication 1993

publisher Turtle Bay Books

narrator Susanna Kaysen constructs an account of her time at McLean Hospital from memory and hospital documentation, commenting on the cultural context and of her experiences and the people who shaped them. Although the work is autobiographical, Kaysen does not write on a strictly linear timeline; she merges events and people for dramatic effect and to protect identities.

point of view First person

tone Reflective; philosophical; darkly humorous; critical

tense Past

setting (time) 19671969

setting (place) McLean Hospital, Belmont, Massachusetts

protagonist Susanna Kaysen

major conflict Sent to a residential psychiatric program in the wake of a suicide attempt, Kaysen struggles to heal in the face of mental illness, the oppression of confinement, and the uncertainty of a changing world.

themes Confusion of social nonconformity with insanity; freedom vs. captivity; limited choices available to women

motifs Time; detachment; generation gap

symbols Hospital records; tunnels