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Based on writer Susanna Kaysen's account of her 18-month stay at a mental hospital in the 1960s.
[first lines] Susanna: [narrating] Have you ever confused a dream with life? Or stolen something when you have the cash? Have you ever been blue? Or thought your train moving while sitting still? Maybe I was just crazy. Maybe it was the 60s. Or maybe I was just a girl... interrupted.
Lisa: [Southern accent] Razors pain you, rivers are damp / Acid stains you, drugs cause cramps / Gun aren't lawful, nooses give / Gas smells awful, you might as well live.
Lisa: You know, there's too many buttons in the world. There's too many buttons and they're just - There's way too many just begging to be pressed, they're just begging to be pressed, you know? They're just - they're just begging to be pressed, and it makes me wonder, it really makes me fucking wonder, why doesn't anyone ever press mine? Why am I so neglected? Why doesn't anyone reach in and rip out the truth and tell me that I'm a fucking whore, or that my parents wish I were dead? Susanna: Because you're dead already, Lisa! No one cares if you die, Lisa, because your dead already. Your heart is cold. That's why you keep coming back here. You're not free. You need this place, you need it to feel alive. It's pathetic. [Lisa falls down to her knees and screams] Susanna: I've wasted a year of my life. Maybe everybody out there is a liar. And maybe the whole world is "stupid" and "ignorant". But I'd rather be in it. I'd rather be fucking in it, then down here with you.
[last lines] Susanna: Declared healthy and sent back into the world. My final diagnosis: a recovered borderline. What that means, I still don't know. Was I ever crazy? Maybe. Or maybe life is. Cabby: Hey, I remember you. Where are you going? Susanna: Seventeen Burling Game. Cabby: Alright... Susanna: Crazy isn't being broken, or swallowing a dark secret. It's you, or me, amplified. If you ever told a lie, and enjoyed it. If you ever wished you could be a child, forever. They were not perfect, but they were my friends. And by the 70s, most of them were out, living lives. Some I've seen. Some never again. But there isn't a day my heart doesn't find them.
Daisy: You're just jealous, Lisa... because I got better... because I was released... because I have a chance... at a life. Lisa: They didn't release you 'cause you're better, Daisy, they just gave up. You call this a life, hmm? Taking Daddy's money, buying your dollies and your knick-knacks... and eatin' his fuckin' chicken, fattening up like a prize fuckin' heifer? You changed the scenery, but not the fucking situation - and the warden makes house calls. And everybody knows. Everybody knows. That he fucks you. What they don't know... is that you like it. Hmm? You like it.
Valerie: [about Daisy] What would you have said to her? Susanna: I don't know. That I was sorry. That I will never know what it was like to be her. But I know what it's like to want to die. How it hurts to smile. How you try to fit in but you can't. You hurt yourself on the outside to try to kill the thing on the inside. Valerie: Susanna, it's all well and good to tell me all this; but you gotta tell some of this to your doctors. Susanna: How the hell am I supposed to recover when I don't even understand my disease? Valerie: But you do understand it. You spoke very clearly about it a second ago. But I think what you've gotta do is put it down. Put it away. Put it in your notebook, but get it out of yourself. Away so you can't curl up with it anymore. Susanna: Lisa thinks it's a gift. That it lets you see the truth. Valerie: Lisa's been here for eight years. Susanna: [crying] I'm so sorry. I was a bitch. I was a bitch. Valerie: Don't drop anchor here, you understand? Susanna: [narrating] When you don't want to feel, death can seem like a dream. But seeing death, really seeing it, makes dreaming about it fucking ridiculous. Maybe, there's a moment growing up when something peels back... Maybe, maybe, we look for secrets because we can't believe our minds... [overlapping words] Susanna: All I know is that I began to feel things again. Whatever I was, I knew there was only one way back to the world and that was to use the place to talk. So I saw the great and wonderful Dr. Wick three times a week and I let her hear every thought in my head.
Lisa: [holds a pen to her neck] Take one fuckin' step and I'll jam this in my aorta! Valerie: [comes over, a smirk on her face] Lisa, your aorta is in your chest. Lisa: Good to know! I'll make a note of that... Valerie: Good.
Lisa: Lady, back off! Mrs. Gilcrest: Was I talking to you? Lisa: No, you were spitting on me, so mellow fuckin' out! Mrs. Gilcrest: Don't you tell me what to do. Lisa: Look, she gave your husband a rim job. Big fuckin' deal! I'm sure he was begging for it, and I heard it was like a pencil anyway. Mrs. Gilcrest: Why you - how dare you! Lisa: Some advice, okay? Just don't point your fuckin' finger at crazy people!
Susanna: I didn't try to kill myself. Dr. Potts: What were you trying to do? Susanna: I was trying to make the shit stop.
Susanna: I'm ambivalent. In fact that's my new favorite word. Dr. Wick: Do you know what that means, ambivalence? Susanna: I don't care. Dr. Wick: If it's your favorite word, I would've thought you would... Susanna: It *means* I don't care. That's what it means. Dr. Wick: On the contrary, Susanna. Ambivalence suggests strong feelings... in opposition. The prefix, as in "ambidextrous," means "both." The rest of it, in Latin, means "vigor." The word suggests that you are torn... between two opposing courses of action. Susanna: Will I stay or will I go? Dr. Wick: Am I sane... or, am I crazy? Susanna: Those aren't courses of action. Dr. Wick: They can be, dear - for some. Susanna: Well, then - it's the wrong word. Dr. Wick: No. I think it's perfect.
Janet: That is not fair. That is not *fair*! That is *not fair*! Seventy-four is the perfect weight! Lisa: [to Daisy] Good luck, crazy bitch. Instructor: Now what kind of tree can you be, Janet, down there on the floor? Janet: I'm a fucking shrub, all right?
Susanna: You know, taking us for ice creams in a blizzard... makes you wonder who the real whack jobs are.
Susanna: [reading from a book] "Borderline Personality Disorder. An instability of self-image, relationships and mood... uncertain about goals, impulsive in activities that are self-damaging, such as casual sex." Lisa: I like that. Susanna: "Social contrariness and a generally pessimistic attitude are often observed." Well, that's me. Lisa: That's everybody. Susanna: I mean, what kind of sex isn't casual?
Susanna: What the fuck are you doing Lisa? Lisa: I'm playing the villain, baby, just like you want. I try to give you everything you want. Susanna: No you don't. Lisa: You wanted your file, I found you your file. You wanted out, I got you out. You needed *money*, *I* found you some. I'm fucking consistent-I told you the truth-I didn't write it down in a *fucking book*! I told you to your *face*. And I told Daisy to her face - what everybody knew and wouldn't say, and she killed herself. And I played the fucking villain, just like you wanted. Susanna: Why would I want that? Lisa: Because it makes you the good guy, sweet pea. You come back all sweetness and light, and sad and contrite, and everybody congratulating you on your bravery. And meanwhile, I'm blowing the guys at the bus station for the money that was in her fucking robe!
Valerie: You know, I can take a lot of crazy shit from a lot of crazy people. But you - you are not crazy. Susanna: Oh yeah? Then what's wrong with me? What the fuck is going on inside my head? Tell me, Dr. Val, what's your diag-nonsense? Valerie: [hovering over Susanna] You are a lazy, self-indulgent, little girl, who is making herself crazy. Susanna: Is that your... *professional* opinion? Is that what you've learned in your advanced studies at night school for Negro welfare mothers? I mean, Melvin doesn't have a clue, Wick is a *psycho* and you... you *pretend* to be a doctor. You review the charts and dole out meds. But "you's ain't no doctor, Miss Valerie. You's just a little black nursemaid". Valerie: And you're just throwing it away.
Susanna: You don't want me, Tony. Tony: Yes I do, baby. Susanna: No, you don't. I'm a crazy girl. Tony: You're crazy so we can't have one night of bliss? Susanna: I am a crazy girl, seriously. Tony: You've been in a hospital? Susanna: Yes. Tony: Do you see purple people? My friend, he saw purple people. And so the state came and took him away. He didn't like that. Some time went by and, and he told 'em he didn't see purple people no more. Susanna: He got better. Tony: Nah, he still sees 'em.
[Lisa's arms and legs are strapped to the bed. Susanna takes out nail polish and starts painting Lisa's nails] Lisa: [crying] I'm not really dead. Susanna: I know. Lisa: I'm gonna miss you, Suzie Q. Susanna: No, you're not. You're gonna get out of here, and you're gonna come and see me. Okay. Lisa: [takes a deep breath and looks away] Yeah.
Lisa: [to Susanna] You think you're free? I'm free! You don't know what freedom is! I'm free. I can breathe. And you... will choke on your average fuckin' mediocre life!
Lisa: We are very rare and we are mostly men. Janet: Lisa thinks she's hot shit cause she's a sociopath. Cynthia: I'm a sociopath. Lisa: No, you're a dyke.
Dr. Crumble: Susanna, four days ago... you chased a bottle of aspirin, with a bottle of vodka. Susanna: I had a headache.
Cynthia: Hey, John, call me a cab. John: Okay, you're a cab.
[Lisa is talking to Daisy about going to Florida] Lisa: All you have is mustard and your chickens! I am going to be the Cinderella at Walt Disney's new theme park, Susanna's gonna be Snow White. You can come if you want. You can be the Cocker Spaniel that eats spaghetti.
Susanna: Oh my God... a guy I know was just drafted. Janet: What's his name? Susanna: Toby. Janet: He's dead now.
Valerie: Did you enjoy the fresh air, Lisa? Lisa: Yeah I did, Val. Thanks. Valerie: Good, 'cause it's the last time you're leaving the ward. Lisa: Is that a dare or a double dare?
Georgina: I'm gonna have peppermint stick. Polly: Yeah, me too, can I just have peppermint stick? Ronny: Sure. Daisy: NO! It's just called PEPPERMINT! M.G.: Peppermint dick! [everyone laughs] M.G.: Peppermint CLIT!
Daisy: My dad got me an apartment. Susanna: Really? Where? Daisy: It's near the airport. One bedroom, two baths, eat-in chicken. Susanna: I think you mean an eat-in kitchen. Daisy: That's what I said, asshole. So what do you have that I want? [Susanna has just showed Daisy some Colace tablets] Daisy: Put them on the bed and get out. Lisa: [from the door] Put your on the bed. Daisy: Oh, Jesus! Get out! GET OUT! Lisa: [she enters and shuts the door behind her] C'mon Daze, don't take advantage of her just 'cause she's new. Daisy: Get the fuck out or I'm calling Valerie! VALERIE! Lisa: Yeah, why don't you call Valerie, shall we? Let's call Valerie and ask her for some Colace just like Suzie Q's got in her fuckin' hand. Why does it STINK in here?
Susanna: Where are we going? The cafeteria's that way. Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: We're going to Canada. Susanna: Wh-why? Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: Look Susanna, you don't need to be here. Susanna: I tried to kill myself, Toby. Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: So you took a couple of aspirin... Susanna: I took a *bottle* of aspirin. Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: And that buys you a year in this place? C'mon, Susanna, that's bullshit! You don't belong here. Susanna: I have friends here. Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: Who, them? Those girls... they're eating grapes off the wallpaper. They're crazy. Susanna: If they are, then I am. Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: Susanna, I think I love you. Look, my dad gave me five grand! We can go up there, build a cabin in the woods! [Susanna starts crying] Tobias 'Toby' Jacobs: I mean, you want to leave, don't you? Susanna: [wipes tear] Yes. I want to leave. But not with you. Not with you.
[Susanna is leaving. Georgina sheepishly looks up from the cards she's playing with] Susanna: Hey, Georgina? You know all that stuff I write in my journals? I don't know what I'm saying. Their just... thoughts. Who knows, maybe I'm the liar. Georgina: Maybe not. [They hug]
Susanna: Has anyone ever watched you shave your legs? Valerie: I got two kids and one bathroom, what do you think? Susanna: I think you should lock the door.
Susanna: Am I in trouble for kissing an orderly, or giving my boyfriend a blowjob?
Daisy: Which do you like better? Taking a dump alone or with Valerie watching? Susanna: Alone. Daisy: Everyone likes to be alone when it comes out. I like to be alone when it goes in. To me, the cafeteria is like being with twenty girls all at once taking a dump. Lisa: That is fucked up, Daisy.
Lisa: [to Daisy] Help me understand, Dais 'cause, I thought you didn't do Valium. Tell me how this safety net is working for you. Tell me that you don't take that blade and drag it across your skin and pray for the courage to press down. Tell me how your *daddy* helps you cope with that. Illuminate me. Daisy: My father loves me. Lisa: I bet with every inch of his manhood.
Georgina: Lisa, is Daisy really getting out? Lisa: Yeah, she coughed up a big one. Susanna: But how could - I mean she's... *insane*. Lisa: Yeah, well that's what ther-rape-me's all about. That's why fuckin' Freud's picture's on every shrink's wall. He created a fuckin' industry. You lie down, you confess your secrets and you're saved. Ca-ching! The more you confess, the more they think about settin' you free. Susanna: But what if you don't have a secret? Lisa: Then you're a lifer, like me.
Valerie: [to Susanna] Remember me when you shave your legs.
Dr. Wick: Is there something about sex which lifts your feelings of despair? Susanna: Have you ever had sex?
Susanna: [Daisy hung herself] Can I get an ambulance? Lisa: Make it a hearse.
Daisy: And my favorite part... it has a sign right outside that says, "If you lived here, you'd be home now".
Susanna: What happened to Polly? Lisa: What needs to happen? No one's ever gonna' kiss her, man. You know, they're building a new Disneyland in Florida. If I could have any job in the world, I'd be a professional Cinderella. You could be Snow White. And Polly could be Minnie Mouse. Everyone would hug her and kiss her and love her and no one would ever know what was in that big ol' head of hers, you know?
Dr. Wick: Quis hic locus?, quae regio?, quae mundi plaga? What world is this?... What kingdom?... What shores of what worlds? It's a very big question you're faced with, Susanna. The *choice* of your *life*. How much will you indulge in your flaws? What are your flaws? Are they flaws?... If you embrace them, will you commit yourself to hospital?... for life? Big questions, big decisions! Not surprising you profess carelessness about them. Susanna: [very upset and uncomfortable] Is that it? Dr. Wick: For now.
Janet: I want my fucking clothes! Valerie: Then you'll have to eat something, won't you? Janet: [singing] Oh Lordy, pick a bale o' cotton / Oh Lordy, pick a bale o' hay / Gotta jump down spin around pick a bale o' cotton / Jump down spin around, pick a bale o' hay... Valerie: [to Susanna] She thinks that bothers me.
Lisa: Hey Torch, what'a doin? Polly: Nothing. Lisa: Well, why don't you go in your room and do nothin'. [waves are Polly with puppet, and Polly runs to room crying]
Susanna: [picks up phone] Hello? Lisa: [on phone] So what's your diag-nonsense? Susanna: Who is this? Lisa: What'd he say to Mom and Pop? Susanna: [looks out, sees Lisa staring back at her from two booths back] I have a Borderline Personality. Lisa: Oh, that's nothing. What else? Susanna: He didn't say. Thought it would affect my recovery. Lisa: Alright, listen. Tongue your meds tonight. After 1 o'clock checks Gretta always goes out for a smoke. Check the mirrors and if they're clear you go down to Hector's closet. It's near the art room and it will be open.
Janet: When they built this place they put the tunnels in so the loons didn't have to go anywhere in the cold. Susanna: I must've missed that in the brochure.
Susanna: Explain what? Explain to a doctor that the laws of physics can be suspended? That what goes up may not come down? Explain that time can move backwards and forwards, and now to then, and back again, and... you can't control it? Dr. Crumble: Why can't you control it? Susanna: What? Dr. Crumble: Why can't you control time?
Lisa: So, have you had your first Melvin yet? Susanna: Who's that? Lisa: Bald guy with a little pecker and a fat wife. You're ther-rapist, sweet pea. Unless, ah... unless they're givin' you shocks. Or, God forbid lettin' you out. Then you get to see the great wonderful Dr. Dyke. Margie: She means Dr. Wick. Susanna: Oh, I've been in his office but I haven't met him yet. M.G.: He's a she. Dr. Wick's a girl. Lisa: That's right, M.G. Wick's a chick. M.G.: Wick's a chick. Lisa: Hence the nickname.
Lisa: [to Daisy] You're playing Betty Crocker and cut up like a goddamn Virginia ham.
Susanna: Everyone here is fucking crazy! Dr. Potts: You want to go home. Susanna: Same problem.
Lisa: If talking did shit, we'd be out of here by now.
Susanna: Has she come down yet? Lisa: No... But she's been playing that SHIT ALL MORNING!
Dr. Potts: You've been feeling bad in general. You've been feeling depressed? Susanna: Well, I haven't exactly been a ball of joy, Melvin.
Polly: Jamie was Lisa's best friend. She was sad last week after Lisa ran away, so she hung herself with a volleyball net.
Lisa: Hey Torch. Polly: Hey Lisa. Lisa: Did you miss me? Polly: Not much.
Daisy: Get out, Lisa! Lisa: I'm not in your room, Daisy. I'm right fucking here. I was gonna offer you nail polish. Daisy: GET OUT! Margie: You're looking better, Lisa. Lisa: Why thanks, Margie. So how's the engagement going? Margie: You know. Lisa: No, I don't. I've been away remember. Margie: Joe wants me to... before the wedding. Lisa: Fuck his brains out - use a rubber.
Lisa: [to Susanna] You shared a man with that woman?
M.G.: [watching birthdays being picked on TV] BINGO! [laughing] M.G.: ... BINGO!
Lisa: We have to go. We have money... Susanna, don't be stupid. Alright, fine. Be stupid.
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