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Girl Interrupted Questions
Describe the resistance exhibited by both Judd’s (assuming instructor means Ryder) and
Jolie’s characters and how Whoopi Goldberg dealt with each form of resistance.
Resistance is where the client avoids speaking honestly about their issues with the
therapist due to a variety of reasons. The client may feel shame in that they have an issue they
cannot solve for themselves; guilty over meeting their needs or even asking for help; or anxiety
because the client has the expectation that the therapist will respond in a hurtful manner as others
have done previously with the client.
Nurse Valerie gained both Lisa and Susanna’s trust as she stands up to them as well as
the staff doctors. She also speaks to them in plain language they understand instead of using
psychiatry terms. Nurse Valerie is not ever heavy handed with them and treats them with respect
regardless of their behavior. She shows empathy and caring as well.
Susanna expressed her resistance to therapy by failing to be honest with herself and her
doctors. She did not believe she had an issue and so was not willing to do the necessary work
with her doctors to aid her mental health. For instance, after Lisa left, Susanna fell into a
depressive state, now taking her medications so she could “zone out” and not feel the loss of Lisa
being gone. Susanna refused to go to treatment. Nurse Valeria was not going to allow Susanna
to stay in bed all day. After Susanna stated she did not want or could not get up for therapy,
Nurse Valerie picked her up and dropped her into a bathtub of cold water which woke up
Susanna where she became angry and racist towards her. Even still Nurse Valerie tells Susanna
that she is not crazy at all but rather she is lazy, self-indulgent and making herself crazy with her
irrational behavior.
Lisa exhibited her resistance to therapy by breaking the rules of the hospital some of
which are escaping from the hospital multiple times, breaking into the office and allowing all the
girls to read their files, to name a few. Nurse Valerie is somewhat forceful with Lisa in that she
commands Lisa’s respect and once that happens, Nurse Valerie has a little bit more control of
Lisa. This control does not appear to last long as Lisa continues to break rules and Nurse Valerie
continues to use punishment in the form of isolation and/or taking items away. Lisa attempts to
make Nurse Valerie angry and Valerie does not exhibit anger towards her. Instead reacts to her
“matter-of-factly” and doles out the proper behavior redirection skills necessary.
What indications were present that could have led to the premise that there was incest
and suicide involved for one of the persons?
Daisy’s indications of incest were her eating disorder, bulimia, where her father brought
chicken from his deli; Daisy would eat them and hide the carcasses under the bed of which Nurse
Valerie allowed her to hide five chicken carcasses under her bed before making Daisy throw all
of them away. Signs of bulimia are consuming a large amount of food in a short amount of time
in secrecy. Daisy does not purge by vomiting as most bulimics, instead she excessively uses
laxatives to rid herself of the large amount of chicken.
Daisy also had a drug issue. She hoarded valium and though did not appear to take them
while in the hospital, she certainly did when she lived in her apartment. Though I do not recall
Daisy cutting herself while in the hospital, I did note that she had cut marks on her arm when
Lisa and Susanna visited on their way to Florida. She also had blood running down her arm
when Lisa found Daisy hanging in the shower.
Other indications of incest and suicide is Daisy’s self-induced loneliness where she spent
enormous amounts of time in her room and would not allow the other girls to visit her there.
Perhaps she distanced herself from others as to shield herself from the realities of her world
where her father had an inappropriate relationship with her.
How/why did Judd’s (assuming instructor means Ryder) character recover? Describe
the process.
I believe that watching Lisa be so unbelievable cruel to Daisy where she brought up the
fact of her incestuous relationship with her father and how everyone knew which led her to
commit suicide along with the actual suicide itself, led Susanna to want to live her life, to
participate in therapy in order to improve her mental health, and to leave Claymoore. Susanna
finally saw Lisa for the self-destructive person she was after she reacted so coldly to Daisy’s
suicide by calling her an idiot and taking money from Daisy’s lifeless body. If there was any
reluctance left in Susanna seeing Lisa’s true colors, it was solidified when she found Lisa reading
to the girl’s out of Susanna’s journal. Lisa mentions that everyone has buttons to push and she
pushes them well. Lisa then wonders why no one pushes her buttons. Susanna mentions the
reason that no one pushes Lisa’s buttons is because she feels Lisa is already dead and breaks the
destructive bond between herself and Lisa. It is then, I believe, Susanna was fully and
completely ready to fully participate with her mental health treatment.
Do you believe the role of the therapist in this process made a significant difference?
Why/why not?
Depends on which therapist the instructor in inquiring about. I do not believe that Melvin
was a good therapist as he was not able to form a positive relationship with Susanna and did not
seem to care as evidenced by the fact he was, in one scene, asleep while Susanna was in a
therapy session with him.
If the instructor is speaking of Dr. Wick, then yes, I do believe she made a significance
difference in Susanna therapy process. Dr. Wick directed Susanna to look inside herself and ask
what she is feeling. When Susanna states she is ambivalent, meaning she simply does not care,
Dr. Wick is quick to correct her and state that ambivalence means strong opposite
feelings. Meaning Susanna’s use of the word, ambivalent, means she is torn between two
courses of actions. Susanna voices where she will stay at Claymoore or will she go. Dr. Wick
counters by asking is she sane or crazy? I believe this opens up Susanna to begin to think about
what she really wants to achieve during her stay at Claymoore. Does she want to become a
semi-permanent fixture much like Lisa or does she want to actively participate in her therapy
sessions with her doctor’s in order to regain her mental health.
What must happen for Jolie’s character to recover?
Lisa appears to hang onto her insanity thinking it is something to be prized, have value,
and help her see the truth. It appears the longer she holds onto this ideology, the more it
becomes try in that she really does appear to be insane.
Lisa needs to first recognize that she has issues that she needs to work on and allow the
doctors to help her in therapy. Lisa also needs to stop playing the villain in that whatever
negative things the girls wanted, she got for them. The girls wanted their files, Lisa got them.
When the girls needed money, she found them some. While Lisa was in-your-face truthful with
everyone else, not one of those girls stood up to her and shared with her brutal honesty until
Susanna did when she found Lisa reading to the girls out of her journal in the basement.
In order for Lisa to recover, she needs to let her guard down and actively participate in
her therapy sessions to improve her mental health.
Make a treatment plan that might be used for during the first 6 months of Jolie’s
Goal #1. Get in touch with emotions.
Obj. A. Empathy
1. Volunteer in dog shelter
Obj. B. Guilt
2. Practice saying I’m sorry
Obj. C. Love
3. Watch a love story
Goal #2. Accept responsibility for actions.
Obj. A. Work on denial
1. Practice admitting fault
Obj. B. Work on accountability
2. Practice accepting responsibility
Obj. C. Work on being trustworthy
3. Practice telling the truth
Goal #3. Stop risky behavior
Obj. A. Do not do drugs
1. Join AA
Obj. B. Stop unsafe sex
2. Use condoms
Obj. C. Stop dangerous hobbies
3. Learn definition of criminal behavior
Wick, D., Konrad, C., Mangold, J., Loomer, L., Phelan, A. H., Ryder, W., Jolie, A., ... Columbia Pictures. (2000).
Girl, Interrupted. Burbank, CA: Columbia Tristar Home Video.