The movie “Girl Interrupted,” directed by James Mangold, portrayed the life of the character, Susanna Kaysen, who was living with a borderline personality disorder. It is a psychological drama whereby the main character attempts to commit suicide, something that leads to her diagnosis and hospitalization in a psychiatric facility. Susanna Kaysen’s character is based on Susanna Kaysen’s life as derived from her memoir.
Girl Interrupted Film Summary
Before being admitted to the psychiatric facility, the character was involved in an extramarital affair with her professor, Prof. Gilcrest. While in the facility, she gets involved in a casual romantic relationship with Toby, a fellow patient in her psychiatric ward (Mangold, 1999). The various patients in her ward have different mental disorders; for example, Janet has anorexia, Daisy Randone has obsessive-compulsive disorder, Georgina is a pathological liar, and Polly Clark has schizophrenia. Lisa helps her friends sneak around in the hospital to provoke the patients playfully.
One of the most interesting ideas in the film is that Dr. Melvin diagnosed Susanna with a borderline personality disorder but did not inform her. After her release, Mr. Gilcrest confronts her for her earlier affair with the professor and chastises her publicly. Toby, who had been drafted to fight in the Vietnam War, offers her an opportunity to escape to Canada. On the other hand, Susanna chooses to share the opportunity with the other girls in her ward.
However, they were caught in the attempted escape and consequentially put in solitary confinement. After the failed attempt, Lisa mocked Daisy, later found dead in the hospital. Susanna engages in writing and painting while in the hospital and cooperates in her therapy session. While in the hospital, Lisa torments Susanna by stealing her diary and reading it to the other patients turning them against her (Mangold, 1999). Susanna is realized while Lisa is confined to a bed when the two reconcile.
Read Also: Film Analysis on “The Vanishing City”
Characterization in Girl Interrupted
The characterization in the film facilitated the understanding of various mental disorders. For example, Susanna had a borderline personality disorder, whose symptoms were evident throughout the film. Her choice of romantic partners was fascinating because she opted for men who had the slightest chance of abandoning her. For example, choosing a fellow patient while in the hospital and a professor in college (Mangold, 1999).
This illustrates the patient making a frantic effort to avoid abandonment. Although this symptom is not sufficient in diagnosing mental health problems, it shows the presence of an underlying disorder. She was also very unstable and chaotic, with a much distorted self-image. However, it is important to note that these symptoms succeeded gradually throughout the film as she got better.
Borderline Personality Disorder
I found the presentation of borderline personality disorder and other mental disorders in the film to be plausible. The moods of the various characters change unpredictably and rapidly, making the entire film unpredictable. The psychiatric hospital is a very volatile environment in which patients hurt themselves and each other. The writers ensured that the dramatization of mental health was accurate.
For example, in the case of Suzanna, who had a borderline personality disorder, she had a fragile emotional skin which responded gradually (Mangold, 1999). I found the film very illuminating on the expression of the various mental disorders, something that I can attribute to the understanding of psychology by the writers and director. I often found myself empathizing with the various characters as they were unconsciously portraying the symptoms of the various mental disorders. The portrayal of the recovery by some of the patients was very reality with the reality in the clinical setting.
Abnormal Psychology Movie Analysis Assignment Reference
Mangold, J. (1999). Girl, Interrupted (film) Film]. Hollywood: Columbia Pictures.