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Behavioral Health and Why You Should Watch Girl, Interrupted

One of the most influential films of the last few decades is undeniably Girl, Interrupted. The film was an adaptation of the same-titled memoir by author Susanna Kaysen, who recalled her experiences as a woman in the psychiatric system during the 1960s. Around this period—as well as into today—people perceived behavioral health negatively, and this story helped break some ground in shifting that perception. Read on to learn the ways in which Girl, Interrupted is still so important almost 25 years later.

It Shines a Light on Mental Health

One of the most significant achievements this film makes regarding its time is that it shows all sides of mental health. It shows the initial struggle to deny its existence and the process of learning and coming to terms with therapy and medication. It also highlights the problematic side of the behavioral health industry, notably with Lisa’s electroshock therapy. Ultimately, the film shines a light on the need for compassion and understanding in this industry.

It Revealed a Lot About Behavioral Health Facilities

While there were a lot of notable characters in the film, the setting itself had so much depth to it that many could argue it was a character in and of itself. It was constantly transforming, and as Susanna’s perception changed, the way the filmmakers presented the facility changed as well.

For example, it was initially oppressive for Susanna when they took her there against her will, but the longer she was there and realized the need to work on herself, the more open she became. Personal space is essential in facilities like this, and once Susanna was on board and understood herself, she had all the space she needed. This perception contrasted with the beginning of the film when other patients and staff alike kept her under constant watch.

The Relationship Between Women and Behavioral Health

One of the most interesting dimensions of the film is the question of how behavioral health comes to be. For so long, science has understood it as a biological deficiency and nothing else, but the film raises additional questions about mental illness as a natural response to the world. Most notably, it presents the intersection between the social challenges teen girls face and mental illness front and center through Susanna. Thinking like this has evolved in recent years, but science still looks at only the tip of the iceberg.

Though it has been almost 25 years later, many of the themes and ideas that Girl, Interrupted presents are still true today. A lot of the same issues still exist as well, as people still don’t pay enough attention to behavioral health. With that said, things are getting better, and people are more open and vulnerable when discussing their mental health struggles now than ever before.

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