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Diagnosis of Susanna Kaysen and My Thoughts About It

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Diagnosis of Susanna Kaysen and my thoughts about it

Susanna Kaysen was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. She did exhibit a few symptoms of the said mental illness through committing self-damaging acts, such as overdosing herself with aspirin without thinking about the consequences of what could happen to her. Moreover, she was experiencing depersonalization, as it was marked by how she firmly believed that she had lost her bones. It could also be observed how she would engage in multiple sexual activities as a result of her impulsivity. With these symptoms, it is true that she was exhibiting symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder. Her diagnosis is accurate given that she had met the criteria of the mental illness. However, it seemed that it was not appropriate for Susanna to be in the psychiatric hospital as it can be seen how she was completely different from the other patients. She actually appeared “normal” in a sense that she was more aware of her surroundings than the other patients. The others seemed to be completely impaired and lost in their own world. Although this may be the case, it is clear why she had to be admitted in the psychiatric hospital, as it is because of her impulsivity and her episode of psychosis. In the end, she willingly went under therapy for some time until she was finally released from the hospital. It can be deduced that a treatment is most probably successful if the patient is also willing to be treated, which is why it is important to take into consideration the patient’s response to their own treatment.

Normality/abnormality and diagnosis issues of the Case of Susanna

There is a thin line between normality and abnormality, and that is self-control. A person is considered “normal” if he or she behaves in a way that mirrors the majority of the population, and if he or she views reality the same way that the majority does. To simply put, normal people are average people. On the other hand, “abnormal” people are significantly different from the rest of the population. They are usually observed to be lost in their own world, as it is hard for them to distinguish what is realistic from what is not. There is an obvious impairment due to their lack of control over their thoughts and behavior. In the case of Susanna, one issue about her diagnosis is that it is based on societal norms. She was “labeled” as such because of how she did not appear normal based on social standards, such as being promiscuous. Promiscuity of women may be a cultural norm in some other social context, like in matriarchal tribes, whereas it is considered abnormal in where Susanna lives. Another issue with Susanna’s diagnosis is that her degree of impairment is not that severe, which raises the question if it was really necessary for her to be admitted in a psychiatric hospital and if it was really a good environment for her.

Perspectives on mental illness and abnormality

Traditional perspective

Mental illness was traditionally viewed as an indication that one is lunatic. If a person were to be told that he or she has a mental illness, people with traditional views on mental illness would most probably stay away from the mentally ill person because they would assume that he or she is insane. Traditionally, normality was also viewed dichotomously; one is either normal or abnormal. It was not viewed as a spectrum of how severely impaired a mentally ill person is. In the case of Susanna, she may be diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, but it could be observed how she was not as severely impaired as the other patients in the psychiatric hospital. However, since traditional views of mental illness were more black-and-white, she was still admitted to the hospital as she was labeled abnormal.



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