Susanna Kaysen - 18 years old in April 1967 – diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Lisa – sociopath.
Polly "Torch" Clark – a burn victim – unclear in the movie what her diagnosis is, but in the book she suffers from schizophrenia.
Georgina Tuskin – Susanna’s roommate. In the movie, she suffers from pseudologia fantastica (compulsive lying disorder). In the book, she suffers from schizophrenia.
Daisy Randone – implied in the movie and book that she has an incestuous relationship with her father; she has a compulsive eating disorder (obssessive compulsive disorder) and self-injures (cutting).
Janet Webber – anorexia.
Cynthia – lesbian (a “diagnosis” that would not be made now).
Unnamed character – Tourette’s syndrome.
The movie takes place in 1967 and 1968. The Viet Nam war was being waged at the. Women were still generally not emancipated. Susanna was the daughter of a prominent economist in the Boston area. She was institutionalized for eighteen months in McLean Hospital (Belmont) for what she called a “half-hearted attempt” to kill herself.
At the end of the movie, Susanna herself says that she is not sure whether she truly needed to go through what she did, how (or whether) she was sick, and what she needed to get better. In light of what you’ve seen in the movie, please answer the following three questions in essay format:
a. Do you think that Susanna was mentally ill and needed to be committed? Support your opinion with facts from the movie and definitions from class and our textbook.
b. Do you think that Susanna received appropriate care? Why or why not? Support your opinion with facts from the movie and definitions from class and our textbook.
c. How has this movie—and our classroom discussion around it—changed your perception of mental illness and its treatment? (Be sure to mention specific aspects of mental illness that you now understand that you might not have before.) Do you think that the general public today has an accurate sense of mental illness and its treatment?