Electroshock Conversion: One Man’s Story

This is from my book, Leaving the Fold, Candid Conversations with Inactive Mormons (Signature, 1999) The interviewee graciously allowed me to use his name in the book. You can find the chapter on Signature Books website. Look under “out of print books.”

SCOTT B. interviewed by James W. Ure.

You must have had real guilt and conflict, or some conflict . . .

You know, I have to say I suffer from a lot of guilt.  I went through electroshock therapy from I think age thirteen to fifteen which was at that point a very vogue treatment specifically within the Mormon church.

This was this an attempt to make you heterosexual?

It was.  The way it came about is that my parents through a series of events found out that was my orientation and they must have sought some advice because one day I came home from school and my dad was sitting on the porch and I could tell he was upset.  He said, “Is this something you want to change, do you want to work on it?”  I thought they were very smart in finding out what they were going to approach me with, and they gave me a choice, so I thought, “Sure. I  might as well attempt to change.”  I wasn’t threatened by the change at thirteen.  So, I agreed to do it.  I have to say I never, I never believed that they knew exactly what the procedure was.  I think they would have been tremendously alarmed had they known (laughter) what actually went on and it was never discussed with me present that they knew.

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From a Stutter to a Roar

I doubt you’ve heard of Gertrude “Tommy” Tompkins.

She was a pilot in the Women’s Airforce Service Pilots—the WASPs. And her courage during World War II deserves a long-overdue tribute during Women’s History Month.

Born in 1913 in New Jersey, Tommy was a shy society girl.

Tommy’s timidity grew from a life-long stutter (called dyslalia) and compelled her to lead an introverted life.

In 1940 she fell in love with an American pilot flying for England in the Battle of Britain. Research indicates he was probably Stanley Michael Kolendorski and we know that Kolendorski, flying a British Hurricane, was shot down and killed over the English Channel in April, 1941.

On September 10, 1942—nine months after Pearl Harbor was bombed and brought America into the war against the Axis nations—an article appeared in the New York Herald Tribune with the following headline: Women Pilots to Fly for Army.

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