Girl, Interrupted: Borderline Personality Disorder Girl, Interrupted is a thought-provoking film that accounts the struggles of a teenage girl, Susanna, who is trying to come-to-terms with her illness in the 1960s. She is committed to a mental hospital when she tried to commit suicide. The film portrays her relationships with her distant parents and intense relationships with other patients while she is hospitalized. She encounters many troubled souls like her, such as her pathological liar roommate, a sociopath, a girl who is addicted to laxatives and obsessed with chicken, and a girl with a disfgured burned face.
Later in the film, Suzanna learns she is diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is characterized as instability in many aspects of daily functioning, including mood, self-image, behavior, and interpersonal relationships (Seligman, Walker, & Rosenhan, 2001, pg. 401). People with BPD have intense shifts in mood like depression, anxiety, and anger for few hours to few days. They are prone to intense aggression, substance abuse, unsafe sex, binge eating, reckless driving, and mutilation (Seligman, Walker, & Rosenhan, 2001 , pg. 401).
They typically attempt suicide impulsively due to the unpredictable moods and have intense, unstable relationships with people. Chronic feelings of emptiness, loneliness, and boredom are common. It is not unusual for them to put frantic efforts to avoid being alone because of their feelings of abandonment. A possible cause is childhood trauma, such as divorce, neglect, or abuse. Paranoid thoughts and dissociative symptoms can also occur. In order Tor a person to De Olagnosea wltn tnls Olsoraer, ne or sne must display at least five of the symptoms, according to the DSM-IV.
It is more common in women, starts in early adulthood, and is by far the most prevalent of personality disorder diagnoses (Seligman, Walker, & Rosenhan, 2001, pg. 401- 402). Psychologists often are reluctant to give borderline diagnosis since many of the symptoms are from Axis l. The diagnosis of BPD is too broad and is open for interpretation. Thus, DSM-IV requires the evidence for at least five of the symptoms (Seligman, Walker, & Rosenhan, 2001, pg. 401-403). Susanna’s mental illness affects the people in her life including herself.
She displays few symptoms in the movie. She has unstable nterpersonal relationships from the beginning and she is only friends with a few men whom she had affairs with before she was committed. Her parents are emotionally distant and seem to only care about her going to college like most of her graduating class, even though she wants to be a writer. Her controlling father is inappropriately angry and aggressive at times. Her mother’s mood shifts a lot from happiness to tears. This unstable environment contributes to Susanna’s well-being.
It is not clear, but there is a speculation that her parents may have a hint of BPD because BPD is hereditary. Her unstable relationships continue when she becomes friends with the girls in the hospital, especially the sociopath Lisa. She alters between idealization and devaluation in her relationships. Susanna keeps switching her feelings about Lisa back and forth. She thinks that Lisa is the perfect friend and then keeps switching back to hating her. This is shown when Lisa read her diary to the other girls about Suzanna’s criticizing thoughts about them.
This gets them angry at her and turns against her because they feel betrayed. However, she does mainly like them since she enjoys hanging out with them and considers them her friends. One of her impulsive behaviors is sexual activity. She used to have sex with her high school teacher. This degrades her familys reputation and ruins the parents’ friendship with the teacher and his wife. Ata time of privilege, Susanna is in the ice- cream shop with her friends when she encounters the teacher’s wife and his daughter. The teacher’s wife gives her nasty remarks while Lisa defends her.
Susanna’s friendship with the teacher’s daughter and the respect from her own parents are tarnished as well. She eventually has sex with two people in the same day, in which one of them is her boyfriend who is getting drafted to the war and the ther is an orderly from the hospital. Her impulsiveness affects them because her boyfriend’s feelings are confused and hurt that she does not want to run away to Canada with him. The orderly is transferred to the men’s ward because he has to stay away from her. Her other impulse is drinking because she drinks when she gets a headache. This impulse leads her in hurting herself physically.
In the beginning of the film, she takes a bottle of aspirin with a bottle of vodka because she feels she has a headache and she got send away in an emergency ambulance. Her family and psychiatrist presume it is a suicidal attempt. Other spontaneous behaviors include not taking her medication, breaking out of the hospital, and steal her medical files. She also aids Lisa in drugging a nurse and steals a guitar from the art room to help cheer up Polly, the girl with the disfigured face burn. This is when Lisa is taken to another ward. These impulses are dangerous and are a major sign of BPD.
Her self- mutilating behavior is when she bangs her wrist and makes it completely bruised Decause sne Delleves tnere are no Dones In It. Susanna nas a nara tlme Delng herself. She was not able to fit when she was at high school. She kisses Lisa because he is not sure how she is supposed to like her. Susanna’s mood is sometimes extremely depressed, such as when Lisa tries to escape and leave or when she is put in another ward. She would not get out of bed at all. She gets very angry quickly, especially when she starts yelling at Valerie, the head nurse, when she forces her to get out of bed.
Smoking many cigarettes is a sign of anxiety and she is seen smoking a lot in the movie. Her self-esteem is low because when she wants to stand up for herself, she brings herself down. Lisa and her escape the hospital and stay at a recently released girl’s house. Lisa’s constant psychologically bullying makes Daisy, the girl who is addicted to laxatives and chicken, to hang herself the next morning. Susanna wants to stop Lisa and to go upstairs to talk to Daisy, but she did not have the self-esteem to do it. Thus, she feels very guilty to witness her death and calls the ambulance.
Lisa runs away while Susanna returns to the mental hospital. Susanna’s symptoms are accurate with the diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder according to the DSM-IV. The movie depicts the mental illness very well, but I believe there are some inaccuracies. People with BPD often have self-mutilation. Suzanna puts severe bruises on her hands because she thinks there are no bones in her hand. The feeling of her bones in her hand disappearing and reappearing might conclude a delusional disorder and not a BPD. In addition, it is hard for her to stay at one place and feels time is out of her control.
She has flashbacks and dreams of her past and she has problems to differentiate them from reality. This leads to the conclusion that she may be delusional and perhaps schizophrenic instead having BPD. I enjoy the movie very much because it is full of drama. Winona Ryder starred as Susanna and Angelina Jolie starred as Lisa. I watched other films with Angelina Jolie and this is the first time I have seen her act like a rebellious, dangerous girl. I love her acting and her performance truly showed the Lisa’s fiery spirit. It is depressing how mental institutions treated their patients in the 1960s.
It looks like they live in a lifeless prison full of screams and cries from many people who Just want attention and love. Mental illnesses like BPD was poorly understood back then and still much needs to be known. It is now realized that locking people away is not the best solution. It was horrifying to know that burned people and those with physical isabilities were put in mental hospitals. They were hidden from society and families wanted to escape the embarrassment. Fortunately, people in these recent times have more knowledge to provide better treatment for people with mental disorders.
The best scene in my opinion is towards the end when Lisa confronts Susanna aggressively. Having a nervous breakdown, she threatens that she will hurt herself with a hypodermic needle. Lisa yells, miou know, there’s too many buttons in the world. There’s too many buttons and they’re Just – there’s way too many Just begging to be pressed, they’re Just begging to be pressed, you know? They’re Just – they’re Just begging to be pressed! And it makes me wonder, it really makes me fucking wonder, why doesn’t anyone ever press mine?
Why am I so neglected? Why doesn’t anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I’m a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead? ” Susanna shouts back, “Because you’re dead already, Lisa! No one cares IT you ale, Lisa, Decause you’re aeaa already. Your neart Is cola I nat’s wny you keep coming back here. You’re not free. You need this place to feel alive. It’s pathetic. ” Hearing that, Lisa stops hurting herself and probably got a glimpse of hope hat the only way to get better is that she has to put effort herself.
I think that is a powerful scene. The ending is bittersweet since most of Susanna’s friends are released from the hospital in the 1970s, but nothing much is known about Lisa if she got released or not. Overall, I recommend this movie to people who would like to learn more about a variety of mental illnesses, primarily BPD, and to those who like dramatic tear-jerkers that show a theme of hope and perseverance. Reference Seligman, M. E. P. , Walker, E. F. , & Rosenhan, D. L. (2001). Abnormal Psychology. (4th ed). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.