Whoopi Goldberg Shares Mom’s Heartbreaking Experience Following Electroshock Therapy

As she gears up to release a new memoir, Whoopi Goldberg is talking about a painful and life-changing childhood moment for the first time.

In an interview with People magazine published Thursday, the “View” co-host recalled how her mother, Emma Harris, was hospitalized for about two years following a mental breakdown. During that hospitalization, which began when Goldberg was 8 years old, Harris underwent electroshock therapy that wiped her memory to the extent that she had no recognition of her two children, Goldberg and her older brother, Clyde Johnson.

“My mother at one point when I got older … said, ‘Can I tell you a secret?’ I was like, ‘Sure,’” Goldberg told the outlet. “She said, ‘I didn’t know who you were when I got out of the hospital.’ It’s like, ‘I’m sorry, what? I’m sorry, what?’ She said, ‘Yeah, I had no idea who you were.’”

Though Goldberg didn’t specify when this discussion took place, she noted that Harris “didn’t tell anybody” about her experience for decades.

“I said, ‘So you carried this for 40 years?’ She said, ‘Well, what else was I going to do?’” Goldberg said.

Elsewhere in the chat, the Oscar winner opened up about how her mother’s hospitalization impacted her and Johnson.

“Living without my mother, who was always my world, who had always been that center of gravity. Suddenly the center of gravity wasn’t there,” she said. “If I needed information, I was to ask somebody, explain why I was asking and do all the things that I would do with her when she was not there.”

Harris died in 2010 at age 78. Five years later, Johnson died at age 65.

Due out next week, Goldberg’s memoir, “Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me,” is billed as “a moving tribute from a daughter to her mother, and beautiful portrait of three people who loved each other deeply.”

When announcing “Bits and Pieces” in January, Goldberg told People the book was a reflection on “my mother and my brother and our time together as a small, funny little unit” in New York.

“It’s dedicated to anyone who’s found themselves on a scary path not of their choosing or dealing with loss,” she said.