Girl, interrupted

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Girl, Interrupted

Book By Susanna KaysenFilm Directed by James Mangold

By Shelbi JennettBlock 6


In 1967, 19-year-old Susanna Kaysen creates a memoir about her stay at a mental hospital.Susanna feels that "reality is becoming too dense", has a suicide attempt, and is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. The doctor suggests to her parents that she be committed to the McLean Hospital, and she spends the next 18 months struggling with her troubled psyche and the bizarre world of the institution. Susanna bonds with several other patients, including Lisa, Polly, and Georgina. As she realizes that Lisa is potentially dangerous and truly needs help, Susanna begins to work harder with her psychiatrist and the nurse on the ward. But Susanna soon learns that getting out of the hospital is not as easy as getting in.

Adaptation From Book to Film

Key Elements Included in the Film:

- The basic story line, including Susanna's suicide attempt, her thoughts, and memories.

- The main characters that accompanied Susanna during her stay at the hospital.

- The situations that led up to her being put into the mental hospital.

Key Elements Excluded from the Film:

- Some of the less dramatic patients that she had certain experiences with in the hospital.

- The explanation of most of her thoughts, and her reasoning for thinking that way.

Changed Scenes:

Some of the key scenes in the book, were interpreted differently in the movie. The scenes were either made out to be less dramatic, or more dramatic then the original author intended. Such as:- Daisy committing suicide

- Susanna sleeping with her mother's best friend's husband.

-Her boyfriend Toby, during her stay in the hospital.

Choice of Actors

The actors chosen to portray the characters in the novel, fit their descriptions, perfectly. - Susanna Kaysen: Winona Ryder

- Lisa: Angelina Jolie

- Polly: Elizabeth Moss

- Nurse Valerie: Whoppi Goldberg

Susanna Kaysen

Winona Ryder suites the role of Susanna Kaysen, due to her spacey attitude, and her crazed look. The profile of Susanna Kaysen is portrayed as more of a tomboy, who is lost in her own little world, and who never seems fully there. Ryder did an excellent job portraying the main character of the film.


Angelina Jolie acts the part of Lisa, a crazed psychopath who is the leader of the wolf-pack. She may be crazy, but she is one of the smartest people in the hospital. Jolie fits the profile by her bewildered appearance, and her deranged energy.


Polly is a burn victim staying at the hospital after attempting suicide by lighting herself on fire. Elizabeth Moss does an outstanding job with fitting Polly's profile from the novel, with her gentle spirit. Although Polly has never seen her wounds from her attempt, she still remains the most loving and gentle person in the hospital.

Nurse Valerie

Whoppi Goldberg portrays the infamous Nurse Valerie. Although she is still an orderly, the girls on the ward hold a high amount of respect for her, due to her tough but caring attitude, and her lack of tolerance for mischief.

Key Scenes


The Key scene for the book is when Susanna is reflecting on her stay at the hospital at the end of the book. She goes through everything that she gained and learned from the stay at McLean.


The key scene from the film was when Daisy Committed suicide. Although in the book, it barely took up a whole paragraph, it was the most dramatized scene throughout the entire film.1:17:00



Although both the book and film were equally as interesting, I personally prefer the book. The film was excellent, however, it did put a lot of emphasis on scenes that were not relevant to the purpose of the book. As for the novel, the reason it sparks my interest, was mostly due to the fact that it includes so much more description to what Susanna experienced. The movie put more emphasis on the situations around her, and less about how she experienced it. The novel was written from her point of view, so the reader has more of an idea of hows shes feeling about the situation and what is going through her mind.