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    Electroconvulsive therapy in the writings of Janet Frame and Sylvia Plath

    Van der Wiel, Reina (2012) Electroconvulsive therapy in the writings of Janet Frame and Sylvia Plath. In: Interdisciplinary Workshops Series: Mental Health Studies Programme, 2012, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London, UK. (Unpublished)

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    Between 1950 and 1975several authors sufferingfrom depression underwentelectroconvulsive therapy(ECT). Still controversialtoday, ECT administeredbefore the late 1960s –commonly referred to as‘unmodified’ – was verydifferent from currenttreatment. For instance,patients did not routinelyreceive general anaesthesiaor muscle paralyzing drugsto prevent muscle spasmsand fractures, nor did theyreceive continuous oxygento protect the brain –practices which are now allstandard. After-effectswere numerous and, as onecan imagine, the undergoingof ECT was a terrifying andtraumatic experience.In this lecture, I will explorehow the personal experienceof ECT in the early 1950s foundits way into the literarywritings of Janet Frame (1924-2004) and Sylvia Plath (1932-1963). Texts we will look atinclude Frame’s novel Faces inthe Water (1961) and theautobiography An Angel at My Table (1984), as well as Plath’sonly novel The Bell Jar (1963),the short story ‘Johnny Panicand the Bible of Dreams’ (1977)and a selection of poetry.


    Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE)
    Depositing User: Sarah Hall
    Date Deposited: 26 Feb 2015 13:24
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:15


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