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Girl, Interrupted: Susanna’s Borderline Personality Disorder

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In the film “Girl, Interrupted” the setting is set inside a psychiatric hospital where there are many people which display mental health conditions. The “main” character in this movie is Susanna Kaysen is placed there for her suicide attempt. Which had been from her failed attempt at being a writer and confusion towards life. She had bruises on her wrists and then was admitted to Claymore; a psychiatric institution. Susanna was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder because she also claimed that she had no bones which had raised flags for the doctors. Susanna’s past had an affair with a high school teacher and had her past traumatized and follow her throughout the movie, faced with flashbacks of her attempted suicide. Her failed suicide attempt had been by the use of aspirin and vodka.

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Her diagnosis is seen as in correct because borderline personality disorder symptoms which are displayed according to DSM-5 are shifts in mood, self-image and increase in violence. The first symptom was when she had her attempted suicide, typically people with borderline personality disorder attempt to harm themselves. Susanna went through harmful thoughts due the stress she had been put in from her family and her affair with her teacher.

As said before she had bruises on her body after her attempt and had been examined by doctors who were concerned with her physical condition while she claimed she did not know how she got it. It can be seen as self-harm in between her personality changes and distance from her reality. She had used self-harm in a case where she could not deal with her emotional baggage she had to take it out with physical pain.

Another display of borderline personality in the criteria is Susanna’s actions of doing something that didn’t feel right in order to fill a void; which can be seen as impulsive. She had escaped with her roomate Lisa is diagnosed as a sociopath who is unpredictable which is why they decide to go visit another girl named Polly. Polly had been in the institution with them and suffered from schizophrenia and depression; causing her to set herself on fire. Susanna breaking out is seen as a compulsive choice and had been a shift in character in order to fill the need for excitement.

Susanna’s shift in moods towards the end of the movie as she talked to her doctor. Susanna had been very motivated towards getting better but had gone through a shift in motivation as she began to describe her attitude as “ambivalent”. This is a shift in her self image as well as she become unmotivated and loses hope in her treatments. She had lost her sense of self which fits as a criteria in her diagnosis. Which is why she had lost complete hope and began to separate herself from who she was and did not believe in getting better.

Susanna had been placed by immense pressure from her family in order to fit in and be normal. This could have led her to form a separation from herself and lose confidence. BPD causes people to lose their perceptions of themselves such as in Freud’s idea of the ego, id and ego are seperated. It can be seen in people’s relationships with others and in image of oneself. Susanna was neglected as a child or forced to deal with emotional abuse that it led to when she was sexually abused by her babysitter neighbor.Which affected her childhood and caused her to endure developmental issues leading to BPD. Which fits her in another criteria of the desire to be in a relationship as she gets in one with her teacher although she knew she should have not gotten involved with him. Her mom is later confronted with his wife who discovers they had an affair.

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In conclusion, Susanna can be diagnosed with borderline personality disorder due to the criteria she fits into the DSM-5 and her childhood which most likely leads her to form this illness.



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Girl, Interrupted: Susanna’s Borderline Personality Disorder. (2021, December 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 9, 2023, from
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