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IN BRIEF

Nonfiction

July 04, 1993|KAREN STABINER

GIRL, INTERRUPTED by Susanna Kaysen (Turtle Bay Books: $17; 169 pp.). After a too-brief session with a doctor she was seeing for the first time, 18-year-old Susanna Kaysen found herself heading for McLean Hospital, a psychiatric facility whose famous patient roster has included James Taylor and Sylvia Plath. Kaysen spent two years there-- and now, 26 years later, has written a bitter, funny, insightful memoir of the events that interrupted her adolescence. She was categorized as a "borderline personality," a diagnosis she was not to know about until she read her medical file 25 years later, a diagnosis she aptly describes: "It's accurate but it isn't profound." Kaysen might have been suffering from nothing more than the standard excesses experienced by the sensitive teen-ager, especially girls, but the eager, regimented world of medicine deemed her worthy of medication and supervision. Her therapist told her she seemed sad, or puzzled. "Of course I was sad and puzzled," she writes. "I was 18, it was spring, and I was behind bars." A minimalist relative of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," Kaysen's spare, elegant book raises angry questions about just who's crazy, and who's in charge of figuring it out.

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