Sylvia Plath on Electroconvulsive Therapy, Pt. 2

A description of ECT applied a little better in the mid-1950s, from The Bell Jar, pgs. 213-214: [i]

Through the slits of my eyes, which I didn’t dare open too far, lest the full view strike me dead, I saw the high bed with its white, drumtight sheet, and the machine behind the bed and the masked person  ̶  I couldn’t tell whether it was a man or a woman  ̶  behind the machine, and other masked people flanking the bed on both sides.

Miss Huey helped me climb up and lie down on my back.

“Talk to me,” I said.

Miss Huey began to talk in a low, soothing voice, smoothing salve on my temples and fitting the small electric buttons on either side of my head. “You’ll be perfectly all right, you won’t feel a thing, just bite down…” And she set something on my tongue and in panic I bit down, and darkness wiped me out like chalk on a blackboard.


[i] Harper Perennial Modern Classics edition, ASIN B004N8X6LK

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