ESSENTIAL GUIDE: Abandoned Insane Asylums | Atlas Obscura
Early psychiatric asylums were imposing structures. Hundreds to hundreds of thousands of patients were held in these buildings for everything from depression to criminal behavior, and then there were those who, medically speaking, suffered from no mental condition at all.
These were improvements, however, over no treatment or the condemnation to prisons, which had previously been the norm. Yet eventually many of these new psychiatric facilities saw an unmanageable increase in the number of patients. Staff and investigative journalistic reports indicated the overuse and unnecessary use of treatments in order to manage these growing populations. However, it was not until the 1990s when many of these expansive asylums were completely overhauled into modern medical centers or closed because of underuse, underfunding, or scandal.
Much was learned during that period in psychiatric history, but much remains to be done in terms of advancements and understanding of medical disorders globally. Stories of abuses, tragic deaths, and murders can be found in old newspaper archives for many of these buildings that remain as towering ghosts. Most of the structures have crumbled, but like the memories of their patients, they remain.
Atlas Obscura presents our globe-spanning portrait of the low points in psychiatric care…