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The Art of the Obituary: Janet Frame

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Janet Frame (August 28, 1924 – January 29, 2004)

She needed ‘treatment’— electro-convulsive therapy at the Seacliff hospital in Dunedin.

Every part of this therapy was horrific to her. The sleek, cream-painted machine with its knobs and lights; the smell of methylated spirits, rubbed on her temples so that the shock would take; the grey woollen socks she would compulsively wear on treatment days, ‘to ward off death’; the stifled, choking cries of other patients; and the shock itself, a trap door dropping open on darkness. As she came round afterwards her tears kept falling ‘in a greif that you cannot name’.

Excerpted from The Economist

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