Essay Sample: Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment on Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted

Published: 2022-03-24 08:25:39
Essay Sample: Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment on Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted
Type of paper:  Term paper
Categories: Psychology Mental disorder
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1707 words
15 min read

In the book, Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen is an eighteen-year-old girl living in the 1960s. After graduating from high school, the eighteen-year-old Susanna planned to become a writer, and for this reason, many people looked down on her for not wanting to join college. At this point, her life was characterized by constant instabilities of her self-image, uncertainties of her goals, relationships with others, and often engaging in impulsive self-damaging activities. With all these taking a toll on her, one day, Susanna decided to drink a whole bottle of aspirin and vodka and ended up in hospital. After being accused of attempted suicide, she contends that she was just trying to get rid of a headache, but this seemed serious than she had thought. Eventually, she agrees to join a residential psychiatric facility, Mclean Hospital, where she remains for the next eighteen months, despite having presumed that her stay at the hospital would only be a few weeks. After being diagnosed with borderline personality disorder, Susanna navigates her experiences as a teenage girl in a psychiatric hospital in the 1960s (Kaysen, 2014). As the author, she narrates her stay at the facility evidencing that her memoir encompasses horror and razor-edged perceptions, while, she at the same time, provides vivid portraits of the fellow teenage patients as well as the caregivers at the hospital.

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The Biopsychosocial Assessment

Personal Status: Susanna Kaysen is an eighteen-year-old high school graduate who lives with her parents in Medford Massachusetts.

Chief Complaint and Current Illness: Two days ago, Susanna consumed a bottle of Aspirin with a bottle of vodka, but she claims that she was not on a suicidal mission. However, being a child of a stay-at-home mother, the patient has had an uneasy relationship with both her parents and a few of her friends, and she keeps a journal since she wants to become a writer in the future.

Cognitive functioning: Susanna switches from interest, boredom, and back to disinterest. Her emotions are characterized by impulsiveness, mood swings, and unpredictable behavior. There is evidence that the patient hurt herself after constantly claiming that she did not have any bones on her wrist. Although it is not clear whether she is just delusional or trying to express her reality perception, Susanna does not realize that she may have a psychiatric problem (Kaysen,2014).


Susanna who is in her late adolescence years was admitted to the McLean Psychiatric Hospital after her unsuccessful suicide attempt using an Aspirin overdose. Despite the fact that she denies of it being a suicide attempt, the psychiatrist attending to her suggests that she takes time to regroup in McLean hospital where she is diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. Based on the concepts introduced in the book, it is evident that during the 1960s, there were no well-defined biological factors that would have contributed to the Borderline Personality Disorder. During this time, the early stages of understanding borderline personality disorder were only identified through Genetic Predisposition.


During her 18 months stay at the hospital, Susanna reflects on the nature and the beginning of her illness which is inclusive of her sense of visual patterns. Based on this concept, she questions the manner in which doctors treat mental illnesses and also suggests that there is no such thing as sanity. Instead, according to her, this psychological treatment is merely an illusion constructed to make the healthy people achieve the feeling of normalcy, in comparison. Besides, after her diagnosis, she felt helpless for being labeled with a psychiatric disorder leading to a decline in her mental status despite the fact that her medication consisted of the psychotherapy and the correct medication. Based on her psychological development during her stay at the hospital, three crucial psychological concepts relating to mental illness are portrayed. These include; labeling, diathesis-stress model, and psychological treatment.

In relation to her borderline personality disorder, during her stay at the hospital, Susanna undergoes a severe depersonalization phase during which she becomes terrified that she may have lost her bones and she cuts open, the flesh on her hand to confirm that her bones were still there. The psychological characteristics of her illness are characterized by emotions such as anxiety and emptiness. Additionally, her attitude, as well as ill self-perception, significantly impacted her stress management strategies.


Regarding her social development, throughout her eighteen months stay at the hospital, Susanna interacts with her fellow teenage patients, Polly, Daisy, Lisa, and Georgina, who eventually shape a majority of her experiences at the hospital. Although, she initially objects the idea that she is indeed admitted at the facility because she needed help, her social interaction at the hospital eventually enables her to learn and understand her diagnosis of the Borderline Personality Disorder. Nonetheless, as she grows closer to her fellow peers at the hospital, particularly Lisa, Susanna begins to cause mischief around the hospital, something that impedes her own recovery. She, however, changes this immediately after Daisy commits suicide making Susanna realize that she did not want to end up the same way and for this reason, she retraces her path to recovery. Some of the social factors of a psychological disorder like Susanna's are such as; social support, cultural traditions, family background, and interpersonal relationships among many others.

Types of Values, Standards, Tools or Techniques That Can Be Drawn Upon to Intervene With the Adolescent?

Various psychological disorders such as the borderline personality disorder are conditions that are particularly common among teenagers throughout their adolescence. These conditions are known to impact their physical, psychological, and also their social development. To effectively intervene with the adolescents suffering from this condition, the treatment should, therefore, correspond with the patient preference, associated risk factors, the level of the disorder, and the developmental level of the patient among many others. Psychotherapy, psychotherapy or even a combination of these two are some of the tools that can be drawn upon when intervening with these kinds of patients (Fraum, 2018).


According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), psychotherapy is considered the most effective component of treatment for both childhood and adolescent depression (APA, 2018). Besides, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry recommends that adolescents suffering from a vast range of depressive disorders should be treated using this technique with those with moderate to severe conditions being treated with a combination of medication. In this regard, the Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT), which is one of the most flexible treatment options for every manner of anxiety disorders should also be administered. APA contends the CBT is a combination of both the behavioral and the practical approaches through which the reflective and the cognitive techniques offer a vast range of toolkits that can be utilized efficiently to tackle all kinds of worries such as intrusive thoughts, unpleasant memories, as well as ingrained avoidance patterns, among many others. Like many other approaches to psychological disorder, the cognitive behavioral therapy has various benefits which include;

i. This approach is considered a lifetime toolkit. The American Psychiatric Association contends that once you have learned the tools that are necessary to help manage the anxiety feelings, both the psychiatrist and the patient can make use of them over and over again, in almost all areas of life.

ii. CBT is an evidence-based practice. Being the most researched technique for a vast range of anxiety-related diseases, the evidence demonstrated in practice substantiates that it is an effective treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.

iii. The extensive use of cognitive techniques essentially makes CBT a more palatable practice that behavioral therapies by themselves. This is highly attributed to the fact that CBT does not merely rely on exposing the patient to their fears. This, therefore makes it one of the tools that can be effectively drawn upon.


This is also a major component in the treatment of the psychological disorders that are common among adolescents. Nonetheless, scholars contend that the adjuvant use of mediation is in many cases, an appropriate concept that can be drawn upon to intervene with adolescents. Usually, pharmacotherapy is combined with the mindfulness and applied relaxation concept which primarily entails learning how to apply various relaxation techniques when stressed. More fundamentally, this concept helps you teach your body on how to calm down. For adolescents, the techniques related to this concept are applicable since this helps one to override the automatic response of the brain manually. Some of the typical mindfulness and typical relaxation techniques are such as;

i. Breathing exercises

ii. Guided visualization in which case one is guided on a peaceful journey

iii. Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves systematically tensing and releasing of the muscle groups in the body.

Methods to Draw Upon

Psychiatric disorders are inclusive of various disturbances which range from emotional to behavioral disturbances. Based on this concept, a majority of mental health issues can be successfully treated through a combination of various methods which are inclusive of psychotherapy and prescription medications. For instance, in a scenario like Susanna's, I would draw upon various treatment methods such as;

i. Distress Tolerance - This is an effective treatment method that primarily teaches the patients on multiple tools necessary for the treatment process for them to endure and accept stressful situations without letting their emotions take over.

ii. Mindfulness - An effective method that I would employ in Susanna's case as a means of teaching all the patients to be more aware of both their thoughts and their surroundings which will enable them to exert more control of their emotions.

iii. Emotion Regulation - Psychological disorders such as Borderline Personality Disorder are characterized by taking a significant toll on the patient's emotions. This being said, the emotions regulation technique is, therefore, much useful since it allows the patients to use various skills to handle their emotions better. Some of the common skills used are such as; reducing the vulnerability to emotion minds, increase in mindfulness of the current emotions, identifying the obstacles that lead to changing emotion, and the application of distress tolerance techniques just to mention.


APA. (2018). What is Psychotherapy? Retrieved from

Fraum, R. M. (2018). Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Techniques, Counseling and Treatment. Retrieved from

Kaysen, S. (2014). Girl, interrupted. Auckland, N.Z: Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind.

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Essay Sample: Bio-Psycho-Social Assessment on Susanna Kaysen from Girl, Interrupted. (2022, Mar 24). Retrieved from

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