The Other Mrs. Smith Will Shock and Move You


From The Vancouver Sun: Bonnie Burstow’s recently released book The Other Mrs. Smith is not only an accurate portrayal of the horrific consequences of ECT but also a masterful work of literary art.

“The Other Mrs. Smith is a compelling novel that invites the reader to join Naomi in her efforts to recover from the harms done to her by ECT and to reclaim the life, family and memories that had been effectively burn out by the bolts of electricity shot through her brain during this treatment. (Many readers will be surprised to learn that ECT is still being used in Canada, but by one estimate over 15,000 Canadians every year endure this questionable ‘therapy.’)

Unlike many who try to use prose fiction to make a political/sociological point, Burstow never makes her characters  stand-ins for abstractions. My particular favourite among the book’s richly imagined cast of characters is Gerald, a kind and generous trans man who was, as ‘the other Mrs. Smith,’ the first wife of Naomi’s husband before coming out as trans. In many ways, Gerald is the moral centre of this complex novel, but he is not the only nuanced and memorable character.”

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    • Oh, not so fast truth, I just found this and can’t wait to read the book. I affectionately bonded with my psychiatrist at the hospital as the anesthesiologist was covering my nose & mouth with his apparatus to do it ‘ever so gently’ right before every ECT, because he knew how I sometimes panicked feeling as I felt as if I were suffocating. I was so impaired & suffering from my devils cocktail of psychiatric drugs that I actually mistook this for caring. I now find this ludicrous. People care…

      • I am a victim of 21 ECT and I will not be reading the book. First, the content of the book is upsetting and triggering and second, the brain injuries make it impossible for me to read and recall what I am reading. I get confused about the plot lines and names of the characters. This traumatizes me greatly as I was a senior high school English teacher who lost the books, poetry I loved.
        Shock should have been banned when Wendy Funk’s “What Difference Does It Make”came out in like 1989 or Linda Andres’ “doctors of Deception” came out in 2009.
        Instead people seemed to want to read and believe Kitty Dukakis’s book about the “healing” power of shock,
        or the truly awful “History of Shock” by David Healy and Eddie Shorter.

          • Sandra, I think you have been through psychiatric hell from the bits I have read. I was also given shock bc I had been driven iatrogenically insane by a cocktail of drugs. What affected you worse, years of drugging, withdrawal, or ECT?
            And there are ppl who care about shock, but not enough. Most ppl just don’t know this barbaric assault is still being inflicted on people- and media isn’t doing big coverage on the protests or marches. It is writing the sick “saved my life” stories of ppl like brain injured Kitty…

          • Kitty, I do not see where to respond to your questions so I’ll try to do it here. I was given around 10 ECT’s until I told my Dr. to end them due to severe short-term memory loss & violence. I’m sure he would have been more than happy to ‘shock it to death’ if allowed. It’s hard to answer your question as to what was worst of the lot. I had to give up my entire life for all of it, even my children. I was in & out of intensive care so many times from suicidal attempts to end my iatrogenic illness caused by my psychiatric medications I wasn’t able to take care of anything. If I had to name one tho, it would be the mentally torturous cold-turkey withdrawals. My Klonopin withdrawal was equivalent to taking 10 hits of pure LSD. Total psychosis in a constant state of unrelenting fear where I suffered PTSD from it and severe cognitive impairment. The SSRI induced homicidal behaviors. When I went on my quest to find out why I had been so sick for so long I had to read many books twice, read scientific information 10 -20 times. And if I wasn’t able to understand it then, I filed it until I could. Even when my house burned down taking all of it with it, I started all over again. There was no way I was going to let Psychiatry win. I’m currently looking for a home for the over 700+ pages of researched documents I have. And think I may have found one. But, your absolutely right. No one cares about our demise as long as Dr’s & big pharma profits. They don’t create cures, they create customers. I do wish you much happiness Kitty. You deserve it.

          • My Klonopin withdrawal was equivalent to taking 10 hits of pure LSD.

            Sorry to interject but that’s absurd. There is no similarity whatever between LSD and any psychiatric drug effect. It sounds like you’re repeating something someone told you.

          • Sandra, LOL, I am not “Kitty”! What I meant was that the media writes big stories about about how ECT “saved” Kitty Dukakis from alcoholism and depression, but each time I have watched her speak, saying it is her 50 th birthday, with her husband correcting her, no, your 80th, or just being dazed and confused, I see the brain damage ECT has caused. And she was given limited shock spaced weeks apart for “maintenance”.
            If you had “only” 10 unilateral, you were lucky.

          • truth, I don’t know why there isn’t a ‘reply’ button to your comments. Now I’m laughing out loud! I told you I had extensive cognitive impairment and this is it in it’s truest form. Kitty DuKakis! Thank you for the laugh today. I genuinely needed it.

  1. For the REAL ECT stories have a look at the fledgling website and submit your story. Our words can do something – create an opening of doubt for the doctors who believe in what they are doing – they might do some deeper research. I once told Robert Whitaker that I was starting a site ‘Psychics Against Psychiatry’. People have no idea of the harm done by ECT on the physical and spiritual planes.

  2. Further to ‘truth’s’ comment – I am in contact with at least 100 ECT victims – all report that they no longer read books – they cannot focus or remember. What was once a pleasure is now an ordeal. I have sent books to people locally through Amazon but found that they will not send e-books outside the US and Canada.

  3. Oldhead, your comment created much anger in me. I do happen to know what it’s like to overdose on LSD, and my K-pin cold-turkey withdrawal not only took my mind to the exact same place during that withdrawal, but while I was living in Klonopin interdose withdrawal I kept feeling as if I was high on acid, and I’ve heard many others say the same thing due to dilated pupils, and a brain over flooded with serotonin & dopamine. So I’m going disregard your ignorant comment. You come across to me as every one of my mental healthcare workers who denied my reality when it came to cold-turkey psychiatric drug withdrawal symptoms. I supposed next your going to tell me that I really didn’t become homicidal as well when coming off my SSRI’s? I am all done here.