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Susanna Kaysen Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Asa, as I Knew Him (1987)Description / Buy at Amazon
Far Afield (1990)Description / Buy at Amazon
Girl, Interrupted (1993)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Camera My Mother Gave Me (2001)Description / Buy at Amazon
Cambridge (2014)Description / Buy at Amazon

Publication Order of Anthologies

Unholy Ghost: Writers on Depression(2001)Description / Buy at Amazon

Susanna Kaysen
Susan Kaysen is an American non-fiction author born and bred in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The talented author went to Boston Commonwealth school and later to Cambridge school before she was sent to McLean Hospital for psychiatrist treatment. It is during her stay at the hospital that she was diagnosed with a borderline personality disorder. From her experiences, Kaysen wrote her first memoir, Girl Interrupted. Kaysen is the daughter of Carl Kaysen, an economist, MIT professor, and a former President John F. Kennedy advisor. Currently, Kaysen lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Girl Interrupted
Girl Interrupted is a memoir that details the author’s battle with Borderline Personality Disorder in the 1960s. Eighteen-year-old Susanna is sent into McLean Hospital after a single session with a psychiatrist she had never seen before. Over the next two years, this young woman would be contained in a psychiatric hospital known for progressive methods of treating people with a personality disorder. Life in a confined facility is tough for Susanna but being together with girls who were going through much more somehow helped deal with her issues. This memoir details the horrors the author and others like her went through, and her razor-edge perception draws a perfect picture of how life was for a good number of patients and their keepers.

One thing that stands out is how easy it was for Susanna to be sent to the psychiatric hospital. Sure, she randomly obsessed about bizarre things like whether she had bones, but she was well aware of her shortcomings. After a short battle with depression, Susanna had tried to push 50 aspirin tablets down her throat. It is clear that Susanna needed help, but the kind offered in the 1960s to girls like her sounded a bit extreme. Imagine being confined in a looney bin where electric shock therapy is among the treatment options used on the patients? How about having doctors and nurses who seem wary of you even when you are calm and just want to get better?

This is more than a story about an unhappy young woman. It is also an enlightening read about a rarely talked about condition, even in present times. Borderline Personality Disorder is a condition that is often misunderstood, and this thought-provoking and insightful story offers valuable information about it. Susanna doesn’t see creatures hiding in the shadows, and she is not delusional or blinded by rage. She is a young woman who is aware of her condition and its consequences. Her story will make you reflect and ask yourself a few questions on what we consider insane. Also, you cannot help but think how scary it must have been for Susanna to know what is ailing her yet be unable to control herself.

Girl Interrupted is a perfect read if you are interested in psychology or medicine. The book will give you an idea of how the world looks like for a person with BPD. It is impossible to read this memoir and not compare yourself with the narrator. What if you fall into the hands of a therapist like the one who quickly diagnosed Susanna? While this is a compact and fast read, Susanna’s story will stay in your mind for a long time. The author’s writing is one of the most truthful you will ever find, and her narration will keep you wondering what happens to her in the end.

The Camera My Mother Gave Me
The Camera My Mother Gave Me is a comic memoir that details the author’s experiences with her vagina in two years. Susanna wakes up one morning, and her vagina hurts. A visit to the gynecologist doesn’t yield much results, even if the author goes home with some prescription drugs. The situation gets worse day by day, and the pain is getting unbearable. Desperate for some relief, the author tries alternative medicine, which sometimes means sitting on tea baths and baking soda. Susanna sees a specialist for her condition, but the cure for her problem remains elusive for over two years.
So, what suddenly went wrong with Susanna’s vagina? Why the unexplainable pain, and what finally cured it? In these pages, you will find all the answers to these and more. In this memoir, the author also explores the role sex plays in the way we view ourselves. The author describes her problems in an amusing and, at times, crude way, and if you are a woman, you cannot help but wonder what you would do in her shoes. It is shocking that despite the advancement in medicine in the modern world, it takes years for Susanna to get any relief. Is there anything more that medics can do for the thousands of women who go through a similar experience?

Susanna’s honesty shines through in this book. She lets you know how she felt during the ordeal and how those close to her felt about her condition. While going through different trials and medication, Susanna often held lengthy discussions with friends and her good-natured gynecologist. What often came to the surface is the overall power of sexuality. This is not your average memoir. There is no concrete beginning or ending, and it is not clear what Susanna was ailing from even though she finally got the relief she wanted. However, you will enjoy the author’s open-mindedness and the unashamed nature of this story.
The Camera My Mother Gave Me is a sharp, witty, and enjoyable read. Going through the pages, you cannot help but admire Susanna for her honest and ironic humor. She also writes concisely, yet just a few words say a lot. Women who relate to the author’s experiences will be happy to know they are not alone. Unexplained pain in such a sensitive area can change your life in ways you never imagined possible. This book is for readers who are open-minded, not easily embarrassed, and those who are not squeamish. It is an excellent read for any woman as the condition can happen to anyone. Amazingly, the memoir is short enough to be impactful without becoming dull.

Book Series In Order » Authors » Susanna Kaysen

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