Susanna Kaysen: Biography

Susanna Kaysen

11 nov 1948

Susanna Kaysen is the American author of the memoir Girl, Interrupted. She was born in 1948 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She was raised in Cambridge by her mother, Annette Neutra Kaysen, and her father, Carl Kaysen. Her father was an economist and professor at MIT and a former advisor to John F Kennedy when he was the President of the United States.

Kaysen attended high school in Boston before she was admitted to McLean Hospital to be treated for depression in 1967. Whilst she was being treated at the hospital, Kaysen was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. She lived at the facility for 18 months undergoing psychiatric treatment. Girl, Interrupted is a memoir which chronicles the experiences that Kaysen had as a young woman living in this facility. It takes its title from a painting by the Dutch artist Vermeer entitled Girl Interrupted at her Music. It became a bestseller.

In addition to Girl, Interrupted, Susanna Kaysen has written 4 other books. Asa, As I Knew Him was published in 1987 and tells the story of a woman inventing a childhood for her ex-lover and imagining what he would have been like in his youth. Far Afield was published in 1990 and tells the story of an anthropologist working in the Faroe Islands. Kaysen’s second memoir, The Camera My Mother Gave Me, recalls her experiences with her gynaecologist in a witty and self-reflective book about sexuality. Her most recent book, Cambridge, is a novel set in her home town which explores themes of memory and nostalgia which was published in 2014.