My rating: 5 of 5 stars
It is one of the best memoirs on mental health that I have read. It is concise yet profound, explores some really interesting issue. It is one of those books that keeps you engaged, I read it while being bedridden with the flu and I couldn't put it down. The language and description are so beautifully done by Susanna Kaysen
Akin to a book based on the life of another author spending time in McLean (The Bell Jar) this book also shows the high contrast in the way women are facing sexism on day to day basis even now. Is the time just an illusion, has the feministic moment achieved so little in past 50 years that the changes in the life of women seem comparably insignificant. I had the same thought in my mind when I read Sylvia's book. Perhaps the perspective I am seeing it form is also location dependent. I live in India and those books are set up in New York ( of 50 yeas back). Perhaps the changes in eastern and western societies might be evident if considered independently.
Susanna Kaysen Puts in a strong argument on the thin line between rejecting social norms and regarded as mentally ill. There were only a few points in the book when I regarded her as someone who needed to be in McLean, (While she sort of enlightens us with suicide101 and when she wants to make sure about her bones ...). Perhaps it was the 60s; it made me realize how much the Baby boomers were like the Millennials on "mental" front. Moreover, the Mental health diagnostics keeps on changing and many conditions are included and excludes depending on the need of time and social conditions. Currently, applicable DMS-5 updated in 2013.
The book is written in a nonchronological sequence, that was initially annoying but by the end, it made more sense. Kaysen's state was unstable and her perception of time was uncanny. Besides it has been written years after the incident took place and only a few, yet significant events are recorded. It is in a way, the perception of past from the present's eyes. It is random memories put together.
I recommend this book for mental health awareness; it is the first-hand record of someone who went through the process of suicide attempt, diagnosed as borderline personality and hospitalization. It is wonderfully written. At times, in writing is in the fashion of a stream of consciousness in which the author raises some very interesting questions.
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