Is Girl, Interrupted a True Story?

Directed by James Mangold, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ is a drama movie that follows an 18-year-old girl, Susanna Kaysen, who is admitted into a local psychiatric hospital after overdosing on aspirin and alcohol. Although skeptical at first, she meets a group of people who help her get used to her new world. Starring Winona Ryder, Angelina Jolie, and other big names in Hollywood, this film gained tremendous recognition, especially because of Jolie’s impeccable performance. The realistic plot coupled with impressive performances by the leading actors makes us wonder if it is based on a true story. If you’re curious about the same, here’s everything we know about it.

Is Girl, Interrupted Based on a True Story?

Yes, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ is based on a true story. It is based on Susanna Kaysen’s memoir of the same name. It essays the journey of a young woman who is sent to a psychiatric hospital after attempting suicide. The film recounts her experiences there after being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.

Many films have tried to portray mental illness as a way of relating to a wider audience. As mental illness is so commonly experienced by people but only addressed in rarity, Susanna decided to publish her experiences in the form of a book. That book was turned into a movie where Winona tried to do full justice to her character. Borderline personality disorder is (BPD) is a condition associated with instability of emotions, behaviors, and self-image. 

Apparently, Susanna’s condition was an alienating experience for her. Even her parents were embarrassed by her condition and didn’t want to answer people whenever they asked them about Susanna’s health. Such situations are not uncommon, especially when people are not well informed about the importance of mental health.

Moreover, in the film, Lisa Rowe (Angelina Jolie) is diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. It is defined as a tendency to disregard and violate the rights of others. People with antisocial personality disorder, also known as sociopathy, deviate away from social norms with respect to the law and perform rebellious acts. These acts most commonly include harassing others, destroying property, and stealing. 

In the movie, Susanna is greatly influenced by Lisa to stop taking her medication and resisting therapy. People with antisocial personality disorder are known to be rebellious, so the movie realistically portrays that. Other than Lisa, Susanna befriends other people diagnosed with different mental health issues. Polly Clark is introduced as a childlike person with schizophrenia. Although relatively rare, schizophrenia is also an observed condition in many people. Symptoms can include hallucinations, delusions, disorganized speech, lack of motivation, and trouble with thinking.

Other people to whom Susanna opens up are Georgina Tuskin (with mythomania and pseudologia fantastica AKA pathological lying), Daisy Randone (who self-harms and has obsessive-compulsive disorder), and Janet (a woman with anorexia). Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is one of the more commonly observed conditions that are usually long-lasting in a person. It introduces uncontrollable and reoccurring thoughts or behaviors that a person feels the urge to repeat over and over. Hence, as far as real-life goes, ‘Girl, Interrupted’ stays true in many regards. So, we can positively conclude that the movie has been inspired by real-life events.

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