Summary of the Film Girl, Interrupted

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  5
Wordcount:  1270 Words
Date:  2021-03-11

Girl Interrupted film is a book that was written by Susanna Kaysen. The setting is in a mental hospital known as Claymore. The hospital was very famous in the 1960s. Susanna, the main character is a young woman who has just finished high school (Cross, 2000). At 18 years of age, she is confused and directionless since she was emotionally unstable. She attempts suicide which lands her to the hospital. Susanna discusses with her psychiatric doctor how she had been experiencing delusions. Some time back she had been having an affair with a man who happened to be the husband of a woman who was a friend of her parents. Susannas attempt to medicate herself with a bottle of aspirin and a bottle of alcohol was interpreted by the doctor as a possible suicidal attempt. However, she does not agree. The doctor prescribes that she need a brief period of resting at the Claymore (Cross, 2000). The hospital is described as full of noise considering that it is home for crazy people.

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The people she meets in the hospital are all psychologically ill. Lisa happens to be a sociopath. She has been very influential to the other girls and has recorded a long history of escape attempts. It is, therefore, easy to access personal medical files (Cross, 2000). Lisa has also been a constant source of frustration for the staff. Specifically, she has been a disappointment to nurse Valerie. Other patients include Polly, who is a fire survivor and escaped with fire scars. Daisy cannot eat in the company, because she had been sexually abused. Georgina happens to be a pathological liar. Susanna has a boyfriend known as Toby, who is concerned that she appears to be comfortable in the company of her institutionalized friends.


Susanna experience recurrent thoughts of suicide and death. She seems withdrawn and not in touch with her immediate environment. At some point, she lets her cigarette burn up to the filter in her hands while she is gazing into space. It indicated her moments of dissociation and how she is lost to her world. Susanna finds it a challenge to talk about her emotions like the moment when she had taken an overdose due to psychological disturbance (Cross, 2000).When she talks about herself, she portrays feelings that are limited with no control of her life. She becomes resistant to her therapist and lives in denial of undergoing therapy that would lead to her recovery.

Susanna rarely entertains close relationships. She does not perceive her mothers or father's conservative lifestyles safe for her to confide. She distances from both of them and doesnt recognize her mother as a role model. Susanna has recently been in multiple sexual relationships. She expresses shock and care on hearing that Tobys draft date has been set (Cross, 2000). All along Susanna reveals her detest to authority, she cooperates to trade medications with other patients and is in the escape plan with Lisa- a sociopath patient.

Susanna says that her hospitalization is because she see things- these can be interpreted as visual hallucinations. At some point, she experiences somatic delusions that she had no bones in her body which led to self-injuring her wrist to verify the belief. She is also with the conviction that she can suspend the laws of physics and, in theory, accredits herself extra sensory perception.

Susanna is depicted as a cigarette smoker and experiments at least once with marijuana but health wise she is okay.

Given her cultural context and her experience with her therapy, Susanna is categorized as promiscuous. According to her therapist, Susanna fits the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder. The therapist implies that the patients mother could also be experiencing the same.

Diagnosis according to DSM-5

Susanna portrays symptoms that meet the criteria for diagnosing Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) With Mood-Incongruent Psychotic Symptoms according to DSM-5.

Category A diagnosis features:

melancholy mood most of the day, nearly every day as Susanna reports to her therapist and from observations.

Decreased interest or pleasure in most activities as seen when Susanna lets her cigarette burn to the filter while she holds it.

Persistent hypersomnia or insomnia as observed during the period of post-admission as well as when Susanna falls asleep during her high school graduation.

Susanna expresses herself as lethargically. The symptoms expressed here is fatigue and loss of energy. It is persistent for almost every day.

Feelings of worthlessness is evident in her very faint level of self-esteem as well as her subjective report that she feel she has little control over her life and less influence over her destiny.

Decreased ability to think and concentrate. Susanna is having difficulties in expressing her emotions; she cannot seem to be able to plan anything about her future. She is also experiencing moments of dissociations from herself and her environment as well as losing track of time.

Recurring thoughts of death, recurring suicidal thoughts and ideation plus her failed attempt to commit suicide although she wittily excuses it as an accidental overdose (Elliott, 2001). Critically it cannot be a mere accident one consumes a full bottle of aspirin accompanied by a bottle of vodka.

Category B

Symptoms in category A have significantly impaired Susannas cultural and social functioning caused her to be distressed.

Category C

The episode has no physiological effects attributable to the substance of another medical condition.

Category D

There is no other psychological disorder that best fits the symptoms of Susannas diagnosis. However to an extent it satisfies the symptoms of Depersonalization Disorder. DSM does not result in the occurrence of the MDD symptoms and depersonalization disorder (Cross, 2000).

MDD best explains Susanna's dissociative symptoms.

Category E

No reported a history of the manic or hypomanic episode.

Symptoms incongruent with MDD

Susanna reports an episode of somatic delusions and visual hallucinations. These symptoms are best fit to psychosis.

Overall assessment.

Quite a lot of prevalence and risk factors predispose one to the risk of MDD. Girl Interrupted is a film that depicted most of these risk factors, according to the DSM-5 females are at a higher exposure as it increases up to 1.5 to 3 times the ratio to men. The prevalence of MDD decreases with increase in age (Elliott, 2001).The film depicts an ideal age as Susanna is 18 and she is a female. MDD is treatable with counseling and medication. For Susanna, her interaction with the therapist is displayed as an important factor in facilitating her healing process.

It is typical for females with MDD to attempt suicides and in most cases the attempts fail. The case is shown in the film precisely. Susanna is withdrawn from her life and its hard to express her emotions. She is unable to engage with her parents or even form close relationships with her peers. It is evident that she needs a therapist to overcome the difficulties unlike the contrary belief that most viewers think she has no reason to seek therapy.

In the context of her culture, and given the film was in 1690s it's hard to diagnose her (Elliott, 2001). Although she is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, very subtle evidence in the film displays it. Her condition is best explained by MDD.

Given the diagnosis criteria of DSM-5 for MDD Susanna is best fit to be treated with MDD. The film covered a large number of MDD symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. It also depicted the risk and prevalence of the disorder (Cross, 2000). Although the film administered clinical attention, it was not effectively done.


Cross, A.. (2000). [Review of Girl, Interrupted]. Cineaste, 25(3), 4849. Retrieved from (2001). "Self-Inflicted" Violence. Off Our Backs, 31(5), 614. Retrieved from

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Summary of the Film Girl, Interrupted. (2021, Mar 11). Retrieved from

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