The movie Girl interrupted is an interesting movie that delves into the psychology of multiple young girls in an in-house psychiatric facility. The two main characters in the movie are Susanna, played by Wynona Rider, and Lisa, played by Angelina Jolie. The movie is about the lives of the different girls who are in the in-patient facility and their particular disorders. The movie shows the patients going to where the files on each of them are kept and finding out what the psychiatrists had been writing about them, including their particular diagnoses.
Susanna is the main character of the movie and is quite the afflicted individual. Susanna is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder by the psychiatrists at the facility and falls into deep denial about her diagnosis. She is a young and troubled girl who seems to fit the diagnoses of the psychiatrists extremely well. Another key character is the movie is Lisa who is a controlling individual who torments some of the other patients at times. Lisa is diagnosed as a sociopath, which is a form of anti-social personality disorder, by the psychiatrists and also seems to fit the diagnosis extremely well.
There are also two extremely interesting minor characters in this movie that deserve mention. These two characters are the disfigured Polly, who had poured gasoline on her face and ignited it as a child, and the extremely depressive Daisy, who seems to have some severe depression and a possible eating disorder. Although these two characters were never formally diagnosed in the movie, their particular actions and issues speak worlds to the world of abnormal psychology and I ended up feeling the worst for in the movie.
Susanna, Lisa, Polly, and Daisy all have very interesting but different problems and ties to abnormal psychology and the different disorders that can afflict certain individuals. The first character to be diagnosed will be Susanna, the main character of the movie. Susanna was sent to the in-patient facility because of an attempted suicide in which she had taken a whole bottle of aspirin and washed it down with a bottle of vodka. Susanna is eventually diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, which seems to be a very fitting diagnosis.
Some of the characteristics of borderline personality disorder she exhibited were instability in her moods, impulsivity, a poor self-image, self-mutilation, and suicidal gestures. Her instability was apparent in her everyday life where some moments she would be feeling ok and good and the next she would be terribly angry or upset. This is shown early in the movie when she has sex with the man and he says one thing that completely upsets her and she storms out.
The mood swings are also seen in her dialogue with the psychiatrists and workers at the facility as she was up and down in mood in seconds when dealing with them. Also, Susanna is extremely impulsive which is shown through her promiscuity where she just throws herself at men at the blink of an eye if she has any interest. This is shown when she has sex with the first man twice, once when he just says she looks beautiful when she sleeps and the other when he randomly shows up at the facility to see her.
Another show of impulsivity is when she just decided to make out with the person who works there the same day that she had been with the original man. She has a very poor self-image and this is shown by the way that she does not think she can be cured and does not seem to like herself. Susanna also may have had issues with self-mutilation as when she arrived at the facility Susanna said her hand had no bones, when it really appeared to be extremely bruised as if she had inflicted pain to herself in some way. The last thing Susanna had that fits with the borderline personality disorder is her suicidal gestures.
This is apparent because her entry to the facility was actually because of her attempted suicide in which she consumed a bottle of aspirin with vodka. The etiology of her disorder could be from genetics as the psychiatrist had said that people with a parent with borderline personality disorder are five times more likely to obtain it themselves. Another potential cause may be her cognitive thinking as she was always negative and had very poor coping skills. The last factor could definitely be from her childhood, although the movie didn’t touch on her childhood too much.
This is a possibility though as you can see her poor relationship with her parents and apparent trauma that she has endured in her life through her flashbacks (Leichsenring). The other major character with an interesting diagnosis is Lisa. She was diagnosed as a sociopath or with anti-social personality disorder and I completely agree with this diagnosis. Some of the characteristic of this disorder that match extremely well are her violation of others rights, impulsivity, lack of empathy, manipulative charm, and disregard for the law. Lisa shows her violation of others rights many times through the movie.
Whether it was forcing herself in Daisy’s house or reading everyone’s files when she breaks in downstairs. She is also extremely impulsive as she just decided to break out of the clinic multiple times. Lisa’s manipulative charm is seen throughout the movie as she can convince basically anyone in the movie to do what she wants. This is shown as she has Susanna and the other people being treated listening to her every command. She is able to convince Susanna to go to Florida with her momentarily and also steals a man’s wallet after seducing him.
This also shows her disregard for the law as she commits robberies throughout the movie, the worst being robbing from the corpse of her former inmate Daisy. What really defines Lisa as a sociopath is her complete lack of empathy and remorse after pushing Daisy over the edge and effectively making her kill herself with her cruel words (Blais 2008. ) The etiology of her disorder seems to come from her fearlessness which is probably derived from a rough childhood, poor parenting, and many traumas during the course of her life.
As for the character that I felt the most sympathy for it was an extremely close between Polly and Daisy. Even though Daisy was driven to suicide by Lisa and had plenty of problems, I felt the most sympathetic for poor Polly. This is because Polly is the only one who actually inflicted irreparable damage to herself through lighting her face on fire and now must live with those physical deformities regardless if they can work out her psychiatric problems. Also, Polly has never had any relation with a man and realizes how poor her image is because of her burn scars.
Polly seems to be a kid trapped in a woman’s body and is seemingly never going to get out of the clinic because of her childish emotional state and obvious mental problems. In conclusion, I felt that the movie Girl Interrupted did an extremely good job diagnosing the particular characters that they used. I feel that Susanna, Lisa, Polly, Daisy, and all of the other patients exhibited real life symptoms of certain disorders and all tie into abnormal psychology extremely well. I feel that the movie did an exceptional job of portraying the symptoms of the disorders and that overall it was an extremely good and informational movie.
Leichsenring, F. (n. d). Borderline personality disorder. Lancet (North American Edition), 377(9759), 74-84. Blais MA, Smallwood P, Groves JE, Rivas-Vazquez RA. Personality and personality disorders. In: Stern TA, Rosenbaum JF, Fava M, Biederman J, Rauch SL, eds. Massachusetts General Hospital Comprehensive Clinical Psychiatry. 1st ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier;2008:chap 39. Dir. James Mangold. (1999). Girl Interrupted. United States. Perf Winona Ryder and Angelina Jolie