Dorothy Dundas, “Shock Treatment, 1961”

While institutionalized for three years as an adolescent in the 1960s, Dorothy Washburn Dundas was labeled a “schizophrenic” and forced to undergo 40 combined insulincoma-electroshock “treatments.” She experienced and witnessed many atrocities and believes that luck, determination, her own anger and one compassionate advocate were her best friends on the road to her ultimate survival and freedom. Through a number of op-ed pieces, she has
voiced her opposition to abusive psychiatric practices, and she created the poster, Behind Locked Doors, from her hospital records. She lives in the Boston area where she has raised her four wonderful children. She also founded and is the sole driver in her “safe, friendly and reliable” car service, The Crystal Lake Express. After taking a medical leave from Smith in1960, Dorothy returned to college at Boston University where she received her BA
in Sociology in 1967.

SHOCK TREATMENT — 1961
The Killing of Susan Kelly
At Baldpate Hospital,
Georgetown, Massachusetts
The dark-suited man slithered,
Shock box in hand,
To our bedsides, four girls, innocent, naked,
Waiting….waiting….waiting,
Sticky-headed,
One by one.
Zapping currents through us,
Young bones cracked, brains bruised
By his cold-fingered electrified touch.
Crime completed,
In collusion with white-skirted nurses,
The limb holders,
He slinked back into the early morning frost,
Steaming hot coffee in hand,
Leaving us quieted, flat as pancakes.
And Susan,
The soft white sheet covering her,
Did not move at all.
His shocks had stolen her, skin and bone,
That beautiful flaxen-haired child,
At seventeen,
Silencing her questioning stream
Of daily chatter, her ballet dreams.
In her innocence, she had spoken for me,
Muted and crushed by endless sizzlings.
Inches away, I did not hear her silent call
As she slipped into death’s embrace,
Beyond –
Where her little fingers hold the violin
strings to my heart,
Playing them like a marionette
In the gentle breezes of heaven.

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