Troubled singer Sinead O’Connor may have shed light on the root of her mental health issues when she revealed her mother had a “torture chamber.”
“She ran a torture chamber,” O’Connor, 50, told Dr. Phil in an episode that aired Tuesday. “It was a torture chamber. She was a person who took delight, would smile in hurting you.”
O’Connor also hinted that her mother abused her siblings, but refused to go into detail about their experiences, instead focusing on her own.
“My earliest memory, she’s telling me I shouldn’t have been born. She didn’t want me,” O’Connor recalled. “She didn’t want girls. She wanted me to be a boy. She [dressed] me like a boy, she chops my hair off. Whenever she beats me, which is daily, I’m naked. She makes me take my clothes off. I have to lie on the floor. I have to open my arms and legs. I have to let her attack my abdomen. She wants to burst my womb. She wants to destroy my reproductive system. She wants to stop me from being a female.”
The “Nothing Compares 2 U” singer said that the abuse occurred from the time she was a toddler until she ran away from home at 13 years old. O’Connor claimed that her mother would stomp on on her abdomen while making her repeat the words “I am nothing.” She also claimed that her mother hit her and her siblings with hockey sticks and tennis rackets, causing them to urinate from fear upon hearing their mother wake up.
O’Connor also said she was sexually abused as a child.
O’Connor noted that the psychological effects of the abuse were almost instant, recalling, “In kindergarten, I won the prize for curling up in the smallest ball.”
Her relationship with her mother would eventually improve, but unfortunately, the warmth they shared wouldn’t last long.
“I got to be the same size as her, and she stopped hitting me. We developed a very good relationship between the age of 14 and the age of 16 and a half. We had a great relationship because she was blown away that I forgave her,” she said. “She was not well. She was really very, very, very not well. I would say she was possessed, although, I’m not sure I believe in such things. So either she was just a sadist and a pedophile or she was possessed by the devil.”
“One day I did ask her, ‘Why did you do what you did to us?’ And she said, ‘I never did anything, what are you talking about?’ And I was furious with her, raging,” she recalled. “I didn’t talk to her for about nine months. The next thing I hear, she’s dead in a car crash … Nothing could ever be fixed again and will never be fixed again. It was very kind of God to take her. Her life was hell. You wouldn’t want to be her. I was relieved for her, relieved for me, but devastated at the loss of her. She was my best friend.”
Despite the trauma she suffered, O’Connor initially denied being mentally ill.
“I don’t believe I am [mentally ill], no, unless you say that complex post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental illness. I’ve had one psychiatrist tell me I’m the sanest person he’s ever met, which of course everyone laughs at when I say that,” she insisted. “Also I’m a very severe child abuse survivor, so I’m a little out there, I’m unusual. Irregular. Eccentric.”
She later described herself as, in fact, mentally ill when describing the breakdown she suffered that led her to post videos describing her suicidal tendencies and that drove her to isolating herself in a New Jersey motel.
“I had a radical hysterectomy in Ireland two years ago and I lost my mind after that,” she said. “That’s, I think, what happened with my family … they didn’t know who the Hell I was. I was told to leave the hospital after two days with Tylenol and no hormone replacement and no guidance as to what might happen to me. I was flung into surgical menopause. Hormones were everywhere, I became suicidal — I was a basket case. So I would say after the hysterectomy, I was mental.”
O’Connor also claimed that her family abandoned not just her in her time of need, but also her 10-year-old son, Yeshua Bonadio.
“They left me and they wouldn’t let me see my child. His father [Frank Bonadio], who never bothered with the child, snuck him into foster care behind my back while I was in the hospital trying to recover from being bonkers,” she alleged. “My family left the child there for six months … That’s what made me lose my absolute mind, was they kept me from my most vulnerable child. Also, in some of my abuse as a child, my mother was quite regularly trying to destroy my reproductive system, so the surgery was very triggering.”
Still, O’Connor remained as empathetic for her current family as she was for her mother.
“It’s not easy for families of mentally ill people. We can be difficult,” she admitted. “What happened was I had been writing to my family begging letters, and angry letters, raging — I don’t want to make out like I’m a victim here, I give it as good as I get … I thought it would be better if my family saw how I was feeling, if they could relate to it. I hoped in my kidney stone madness that my family would see it and go, ‘Oh my God, we didn’t realize it was that bad. We’ll go get her.’”
Following the taping, O’Connor posted a video complaining about a treatment facility that Dr. Phil sent her to, accusing the night staff of sleeping on the job and the rest of the center’s staff of ignoring pleas for help from other suicidal patients. She also claimed that Dr. Phil never phoned her for three weeks of her stay.
Days later, she insisted in a separate video that following her first successful Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) session that Dr. Phil was actually an “angel.”