Reconsidering the Unreliability and Treatment of Mentally Ill Narrators
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Throughout her memoir, Girl, Interrupted (1993), Susanna Kaysen includes the images of several pieces of official medical documentation from just before and throughout her stay at McLean mental hospital. Each note is marked with the date and an official signature, some also with a time stamp. Among the first memos, she includes an Inter-Office Memorandum from her physician to McLean Hospital, stating that his evaluation “extended over three hours” before suggesting she sign herself into McLean (Kaysen 13). Later is an admission note from McLean, stating her entry at 11:30 am (73). As she calculated the wait time at the hospital, the time driving from doctor to hospital, the hour her doctor spent calling her parents and making arrangements, and her memory of leaving the house at 8:00 am for a 9:00 appointment, the time does not add up. No more than seventy pages into her account, Kaysen writes, “That doctor says he interviewed me for three hours. I say it was twenty minutes…between my walking in the door and his deciding to send me to McLean…We can’t both be right. Does it matter which of us is right? ...But now you believe him. Don’t be so quick. I have more evidence” (71-72). She proceeds to recount the events of that morning as best as she can recall, lining them up to fit her own remembered timeline.