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Susanna Kaysen

  • ... it is easy to slip into a parallel universe. There are so many of them: worlds of the insane, the criminal, the crippled, the dying, perhaps of the dead as well. These worlds exist alongside this world and resemble it, but are not in it.

  • Did the hospital specialize in poets and singers, or was it that poets and singers specialized in madness? ... What is it about meter and cadence and rhythm that makes their makers mad?

  • Insanity comes in two basic varieties: slow and fast. I'm not talking about onset or duration. I mean the quality of the insanity, the day-to-day business of being nuts.

  • She had hard gray hair pressed into waves that grasped her scalp like a migraine.

  • Lunatics are similar to designated hitters. Often an entire family is crazy, but since an entire family can't go into the hospital, one person is designated as crazy and goes inside.

  • Now we've got smokism. It's one of the reasons I became a writer: to be able to smoke in peace.

  • There is thought, and then there is thinking about thoughts, and they don't feel the same.

  • For nearly a century the psychoanalysts have been writing op-ed pieces about the workings of a country they've never traveled to, a place that, like China, has been off-limits. Suddenly, the country has opened its borders and is crawling with foreign correspondents, neurobiologists are filing ten stories a week, filled with new data. These two groups of writers, however, don't seem to read each other's work. That's because the analysts are writing about a country they call Mind and the neuroscientists are reporting from a country they call Brain.

Susanna Kaysen, U.S. writer

(1948)