The movie Girl Interrupted gives a glimpse into the world of the psychiatric hospitals and their patients in the late 1960’s. Each of the characters exhibit symptoms of various psychological problems, while still being personable enough to allow viewers to sympathise with them. At some point in our lives, each of us feels as if we are on the outside of society like Susannah, or tries to manipulate others like Lisa. We do not, however, carry it to the extremes that they do. We are able to maintain control over our lives, and live in relative peace and harmony with those around us.
One example from the movie of someone trying too hard to control the things around her is Daisy Randone’s obsessive compulsive disorder. Some examples of this behavior are; her obsession with chicken, her refusal to allow anyone into her room, her addiction to laxatives, and her eventual suicide. Some of the other residents talked about the fact that Daisy always checked in for a short stay around the holidays, and always had a private room. They also suspected that Daisy might be the victim of incest as well.
According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) develops most often in people who are under a great deal of stress. (Encyclopedia Britannica Volume 8 pg) This stress can become worse for survivors of child abuse around the holiday season, as they are forced to interact with family members. If this were the case for Daisy, being checked in to a mental facility during the holidays was probably the result of this extra stress. When she is admitted, she exhibits some of the more severe signs of OCD. For example, she seems to be obsessed with chicken.
She refuses to eat with the other patients, she will only eat chickens from her fathers deli, she strips the meat from the carcasses and saves them under her bed. She even seems to be stuck on the word chicken. On several occasions, when talking about her new apartment, she says that it has an eat in chicken instead of kitchen. These obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors are typical of someone with OCD. By not allowing anyone into her room, Daisy is attempting to control her environment. For someone with OCD, this could be a way of keeping germs at bay, or from a need to keep their surroundings uncontaminated.
It could also be from shame. According to the International OCD Foundation web site, shame is the leading cause for misdiagnoses of people with OCD. They will go to great lengths to hide the problems they are having. Many times, people will live for years hiding their symptoms until the anxiety becomes too overwhelming to conceal. They know that the obsessive thoughts and elaborate rituals they perform make no sense, but not performing them can cause a debilitating amount of anxiety. Another symptom of OCD that Daisy shows is her addiction to laxatives.
The National Institute of Mental Health says that about 2. 2 million people in America suffer from OCD, about a third of which are accompanied by eating disorders, the most common being an obsession with bodily waste. Compulsively taking laxatives is a way of controlling this obsession. One of the most unfortunate aspects of OCD is the high rate of suicide among sufferers. At least 90% of people who commit suicide have a diagnosable and treatable psychiatric illness. Along with suicide, there is a high rate of self mutilation; cutting, skin picking, hair pulling, and banging being among the most prevalent.