Notorious asylums

S ince the dawn of modern medicine, mental asylums or madhouses, have earned a dark and troubling reputation. But among the many psychiatric Institutions around the world, the following asylums rank above them all for their inhumane treatment and lasting legacies of fear.

The Topeka State Hospital, formerly known as the Topeka State Asylum, opened its doors in for treatment of the mentally ill. By the early 20th century, rumors of rape and mistreatment in the hospital had already begun.

Over the course of decades, the hospital became the subject of investigation for unethically chaining patients and neglect. In the hospital received damaging criticism when it was revealed that John Crabb, a year-old patient, was mentally sane and wrongfully incarcerated in the institution.

After this period, the hospital rapidly underwent reforms to improve treatment and ensure correct diagnosis. Ina patient named Kenneth Waddell was transferred to the high-risk ward of the facility before the ward was closed and he was moved into the general population.

While law enforcement did not find the hospital responsible, the incident was a final and damning blow to the reputation of the institution.

Inthe hospital closed its doors and, as of Junemany of the old buildings have been demolished. When it opened inthis institution was the largest and most advanced hospital of its kind in Massachusetts.

The location of the hospital was chosen based on the need for mental health treatments in the Greater Boston Area. In fact, it even boasted a building entirely devoted to providing care for mentally ill minors. However, not everything about the progressive hospital was as it appeared and it soon earned a grim nickname: the Hospital of Seven Teeth. In a patient named Anne Marie Davee was out for a walk on the grounds from which she never returned.

It was not until that the truth of what happened to her was finally uncovered. To top it off, he kept seven of her teeth as souvenirs of his deed. The hospital remained open for a short time before closing in due to budget cuts. Today, parts of the campus have been converted into apartment housing while others remain open to the public as a historic site with walking trails. Trenton State Hospital was founded in by Dorothea Lynde Dix, a mental health advocate of the time.

Henry Cotton assumed directorship of the facility in with an approach that was opposed to patient restraints and worked to implement occupational therapy programs.

10 Crazy Facts From Bedlam, History’s Most Notorious Asylum

He and his staff routinely removed organs and teeth, in an attempt to cut off mental illness at its perceived root. His medical practices continued after he departed the facility and died in Today, the immense building lies abandoned, falling into ruin. This Staten Island institution for mentally ill children opened its doors in From the very beginning, the Willowbrook suffered from outbreaks of hepatitis A.

Medical professionals used the institution as a place to study the effects of the disease and the treatment of drugs. By the s public outrage at using sick children as medical guinea pigs forced such experiments to cease. Despite the accusations of malpractice, the research did lead to minor breakthroughs in the study of the disease. Several reporters wrote pieces on the poor conditions of the facility as well as the neglect and abuse suffered by the patients.

Ina class-action lawsuit was filed against the State of New York on behalf of the patients. This case was partially responsible for the federal law protecting institutionalized individuals in The school was closed in with parts of it repurposed for Staten Island College. Opening its doors in to the mentally ill, Danvers State Hospital is probably best known today for being the set for the psychological horror film Session 9 in which a man on an asbestos cleanup crew finds himself slowly going insane while working in an abandoned mental facility.

Its location was, in itself, precarious, as it was built upon the spot where Salem Witch Trials judge John Hathorne once lived, adding to its cursed reputation. When Danvers opened, the facility was designed for patients and the medical staff implemented policies against physical restraints and detailed a plan to cure patients rather than simply house them away from society.

These noble intentions were abandoned by the beginning of the 20th century when the overcrowded hospital housed almost 2, patients.Credit: Wikimedia Commons. In every society there are those tortured by their own mind--individuals born mentally ill or afflicted by mental illness after suffering a grave misfortune.

How we treat such people continues to evolve. Luckily, in much of the world, the rough medical techniques of the past have largely been abandoned, with insane asylums replaced by modern psychiatric hospitals. But there was once an insane asylum so notorious that its very name entered the English language as a word for chaos, mayhem, and confusion. Founded inBethlem is Europe's oldest center devoted solely to the treatment of mental illness.

The facility was founded by the Italian Bishop Goffredo de Prefetti and built directly atop a sewer that frequently overflowed. It originally served not as a sanctuary for the insane but to help raise money for the Crusades via alms collection.

During this time, it was not uncommon for monks and other religious figures to take in the indigent, who were often mentally ill. When exactly Bethlem's mission transformed from the collection of alms to the treatment of the mentally ill is unclear. Bythe institution was being referred to as a hospital and by historians believe it had become the exclusive home for the insane.

Little is known of the institution's inner workings during the Medieval period, but by the s, control was transferred from the church to the state. Inthe facility--shabby and in desperate need of additional space--moved north of London to the Moorfields. Two ominous statues were installed over its entrance gate--one named "Melancholy" who appeared calm and the other named "Raving Madness" who was chained and angry.

As evermore schizophrenics, epileptics, and those with learning disabilities crowded into the facility, Bethlem twisted into Bedlam, and patient treatment took a turn for the sinister. One such approach was rotational therapy. A patient would be placed in a chair and suspended from the ceiling.

The chair was then spun at the direction of a doctor, sometimes at more than rotations a minute. The patient would often vomit and experience extreme vertigo, but these were seen as healthy reactions with the potential for healing.

InJames Monro became Bethlem's chief physician, initiating a Monro family dynasty that lasted for roughly four generations.

Lunatic asylum

As the Monros shifted their focus from apothecaries to surgeons, treatment procedures grew worse. Patients were routinely beaten, starved, and dunked in ice cold baths. One such doctor, William Black, wrote his Dissertation on Insanity in and said of Bethlem: "The strait waistcoat, when necessary, and occasional purgatives are the principal remedies. Patients were also victim to bloodletting by leeches, cupping glass therapy, and the inducing of blisters.

Treatment was so severe that the facility refused to admit patients deemed too meek to withstand it. Indeed, many did not survive. Modern investigations have uncovered mass graves on the property, dug exclusively for those who died under Bethlem's care. Perhaps most humiliating of all, was the time period when the facility opened its doors to the public.

Initially the policy hoped to draw in family members to visit their loved ones. Unfortunately, wealthy Londoners often paid money to roam the halls of Bedlam, taking in the zoo-like conditions and marveling at the psychosis around them.Along with shopping centres and grave yards, mental asylums are an important setting for many horror movies. But they have only come to be enshrined in horror fiction because they already were creepy in the first place. They are inherently creepy. The Victorian Gothic architecture of the building itself ensures that.

But the creepy nature of the most notorious asylums goes far deeper than just their appearance. Huge buildings where the mentally ill were imprisoned were always going to see a lot of brutality during the 19 th and 20 th centuries. The mere mention of the word asylum conjures up images of lobotomies and electroshock therapy.

But the abuse the patients suffered is also just one piece of the puzzling history of the 10 most notorious asylums ever. The hospital is also notorious for the accidental poisoning of several patients in the s. In the s, Anna Davies was brutally murdered by fellow patient Melvin Wilson. It was only 2 years later that he led authorities to the 3 places where he buried her chopped up body.

They grew suspicious of him after they found her teeth in his possession.

10 Notorious Asylums and the Horrors that Happened Within them

Opened inWalter E. And just like a prison, sexual and physical abuse was a common sight. Walter E. Fernald, the schools first superintendent, was even a vocal advocate of Eugenics. In the s, researchers at M. T wanted to learn how the body absorbs ions.

In order to do this they decided to experiment on children at the school. They fed the children breakfast cereal laced with radioactive materials. The children were not told what they were actually eating. So inM. T agreed to pay out almost 2 million dollars to the survivors. In return for this abuse, the 57 test subjects were given extra food and trips to baseball games. The school is actually still open today and has about 12 residents.

Many asylums were described as schools even know they were not. Eastern State Hospital lies in Williamsburg, Virginia. It was the first American hospital constructed for the mentally ill alone and was a clear product of the enlightenment. But like other early asylums, it was run like a prison and partly up-kept by slaves. The philosophy of the asylum was that the scientific method was simply ineffective.

So instead, patients were constrained by straitjackets and subjected to physical abuse. These are two things it has in common with most other notorious asylums. The patients were also isolated from society as much as possible.

At present the original hospital operates as a museum. A creepy museum. Number seven on the list are just Serbian Asylums in general. In Serbia, the mentally ill are made to live in terrible conditions from childhood until death.

Little therapy is offered to them — just imprisonment in isolated and overcrowded state institutions. The Serbian mental health facilities have become the most notorious asylums to still exist in Europe.

This is because they were brought to attention a few years ago by American news corporations.If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, that path may well cut through the fetid halls of Bethlem Hospital. The institution began as a priory for the New Order of St. Mary of Bethlehem in As religious folks are wont to do, the monks there began to look after the indigent and mentally ill. The monks believed that harsh treatment, a basic diet, and isolation from society starved the disturbed portion of the psyche.

While their aim was pure, those who would succeed the monks were not so wholesome of purpose. What would follow was more than years of madness and squalor. Bethlem began as a small institution, catering to only a handful of inmates at once. The original structure was built atop a sewer, which frequently overflowed, leaving patients to trudge through the foul muck. It accommodated approximately a dozen patients at any given time, and it featured a kitchen and an exercise yard.

Little is known of Bedlam during the intervening medieval period, but during this time, control of the facility transferred from the church to the crown of England, probably because the government foresaw a potential profit. By the s, the original facility was a crumbling mess. Along with the raving schizophrenics and psychopaths were epileptics and those with learning disabilities.

These souls were often forsaken by their loved ones, allowing for a wild medley of abuse. Invented by Erasmus Darwin grandfather to Charlesthis therapy involves sitting a patient in a chair or swing suspended from the ceiling.

The chair is then spun by an orderly, the speed and duration dictated by a doctor. This low-rent carnival ride could rotate a dizzying times a minute. Of course, carnival rides can be great fun, but it is their brevity which makes them manageable. Two minutes in defiance of gravity is a thrill—but can you imagine being stuck on the Zipper or the Scrambler for a few hours?

notorious asylums

Countless patients were subjected to this treatment at Bedlam. Inducing vertigo did nothing to curtail the severity of mental illness. The results of rotational therapy included vomiting, pallor, and incontinence. At the time, these were seen as beneficial, especially vomiting, which was considered therapeutic. Oddly enough, rotational therapy would later provide valuable insight to scientists studying the effects of vertigo on balance.

These included architect Augustus Pugin, who designed the interior of the Palace of Westminster where the parliament meetsa motley crew of would-be royal assassins, and legendary pickpocket Mary Frith aka Moll Cutpurse. So too has Bedlam Hospital done its part to inspire. Bedlam is depicted as the ultimate ruin of a man named Tom Rakewell in a series of paintings by artist William Hogarth created in the s.

In the last of eight paintings, Tom lies prostrate on the floor of Bedlam while society ladies look on and fellow patients suffer through their delusions. English artist Richard Dadd spent two decades as a patient in Bedlam.

Likely a paranoid schizophrenic, Dadd became convinced that his father was the devil, and he stabbed him to death in August He fled to France to fulfill a lunatic plan to kill the Austrian emperor and the Pope under the instruction of the Egyptian god Osiris, who he believed communicated with him. He was later captured when he attempted to attack another man with a razor on a train. It is fantastical, yet filled with baroque details, Shakespearean context, and ties to folklore.

It has inspired many over the years, including Freddie Mercury of Queen, who penned a song in honor of the painting. Psychiatric treatments have come a long way since Bedlam first opened its doors to the mentally ill.

Today, we have reliable pharmaceuticals and established paths of psychotherapy. But in the past, treatments could be decidedly more traumatic. Bedlam was run by physicians in the Monro family for over years, during the 18th and 19th centuries.Reports from the s and early s about the abuse of patients in insane asylums are enough to make the strongest person want to vomit.

Bedlam: The Horrors of London's Most Notorious Insane Asylum

The patients were often kept in the most horrendous conditions and, in some cases, were treated far worse than any mistreated farm animal.

Even worse, the asylums fought back against the charges, claiming that none of the accusations against them should be believed because the patients were already insane. Newspapers took sides on the issues, with some papers reporting on investigations into horrendous forms of abuse and other papers saying that it was all just slander.

Of course, the institutions wanted to protect themselves, but they did it at the cost of human suffering and, in many cases, committed murder. Imagine being poor and labeled insane in the s. What were your chances of being treated with dignity and offered real help? Pretty much zilch. There were no sanitary measures bathroomsand people who were deemed insane were kept in wooden cages. Yet he was locked up in a wooden cage for 18 months with straw strewn on the floor, probably for bedding.

Some of the other inmates had little to no clothing, and many were too weak to movehaving been kept crouched in a cage. In a final description, the reporter told of a year-old woman who had been kept in a little cage for six years.

The year wasand the Omaha Daily Bee had a story that was all too common in those times. Patients at the Lakeland Insane Asylum in Kentucky were being tortured by the attendants. An investigation was underway, and patients were testifying about the abuse. Many of the patients claimed that they were too scared to reveal everything that was going on inside the asylum, fearing that the attendants would hurt them after their testimony. Others revealed that they were strangled, beaten with socks containing potatoes, and forced to take cold showers as punishment.

Being bound to a chair is nothing new. You see the practice all the time on crime television shows. One of the attendants explained the water cure like this:. When a patient refused to obey the orders given by Miss Houston [head of staff], the attendants were ordered to throw a sheet over her head and draw her to the floor.

While the attendants held the patient, Miss Houston poured water out of a pan into her face. The water was poured fast, and the pouring continued until the patient agreed to obey orders. According to the testimony, this was not a once-and-done thing. Simulated drowning happened often under the matron head of staff, which is why a committee was formed to investigate the claims of torture brought against her.

There are numerous short accounts of starvation in insane asylums in the late s and early s. In an account that came out of Boston ina witness testified that women and children were dying of starvation. Another report said:.A favorite location of modern horror movies and television shows, insane asylums have captured our imaginations for ages. Many of the most famous mental institutions have sordid histories, with famous patients, terrifying ghosts, and scads of abuse.

Located just a few miles from downtown LA, Rancho Los Amigos was originally created in to assist people living in poverty. Here, they could work in exchange for care from the local government. Over time, the grounds were extended and the space evolved into a hospital. Eventually, it grew to include a mental hospital.

Ghost hunters FLEE a notorious psychiatric asylum in TERROR!

Though the hospital itself is still in use, it has moved to another location. In the s, it began to shut down its wards, including the mental hospital. Along the way, some gruesome secrets were discovered. Induring a training exercise, Marines uncovered a freezer in the morgue. Inside, they found mummified amputated limbs and brain tissue samples that were left behind from when the hospital was abandoned. There are some places that have been abandoned to rot: most notably, Building 25, which the hospital ceased using in This ward gained its reputation from a series of reports documenting brutal treatments of patients.

In the s, rumors began to emerge about an abundance of patient abuse including rapes, murders, suicides and beatings. The man, Robert Venegas, was restrained in a straitjacket at the time, and died due to asphyxiation--the aide had crushed his throat.

notorious asylums

Shortly after, the asylum was closed for good. Intrepid explorers still explore Building 25, which is now covered in pigeon excrement and filled with detritus from its former days--and maybe even a few ghosts. Built in and originally intended for tending to tuberculosis patients, Athens Lunatic Asylum housed patients far over its capacity for most of its functioning years.

This overcrowding caused the care for each patient to decrease, until the hospital began abusing its patients. Walter Jackson. Dr Jackson was a big fan of the transorbital lobotomy, calling it the cure-all for every mental illness. He performed over lobotomies during his time there. While there were hundreds of deaths when the hospital was open, the most famous is that of Margaret Schilling.

She went missing while on the ward, and either no one noticed or cared. Over a month later, her body was found in a locked room in an abandoned part of the tuberculosis ward. Her body left a gruesome stain on the ward floor that can still be seen today.

Opened to ease the overpopulation of the other two mental hospitals in Newtown, Fairfield Hills quickly became overcrowded itself and resorted to unconventional methods of treating its patients. Aside from the then-normal lobotomies and Thorazine prescriptions, this hospital became known for its use of hydrotherapy. Not exactly. Used as a calming method, this treatment involved patients being submerged in ice water sometimes for more than a full day.

They were not permitted out, even to relieve themselves. Many locals believe the remnants of the Fairfield State Hospital to be haunted--especially the tunnels used to shuttle patients, dead and alive, throughout the sprawling campus. Fairfield Hills shut down in Death, illness and tragedy have long permeated the history of American insane asylums.

Beginning in the late 18th century buildings that housed the criminally and mentally insane swept the country like a plague. Now, all but lost to history, is the brutality of these institutions. Torture and abuse all but flowed freely and time has yet to erase the multitude of horror that was brought down upon each surviving soul.

Take a journey into the world of asylums, see why they are some of the scariest places on earthand join me for a road trip into the supernatural. Originally monikered the Athens Asylum for the Criminally Insane, this massive institution first opened its door on January 9,years ago.

The State and Federal Government had purchased over 1, acres of land from the Coates, a family who's farm had previously occupied the land. The main building, enormous in structure, was designed around the idea that it was therapeutic for patients to be housed in a facility that resembled a home. Asylums at this time were more often than not a facade of mental abuse and torture. The Ridges was a first of its kind, an asylum where bleeding, freezing,and kicks to the head were not thought of as ways to "shock" the illness out of the brain.

The less disturbed patients were housed closer to the center where the administrative offices and employee housing were. The violent patients were housed at the far end of the wings away from employee housing and convenient exit and entries. The building housed over patients until over crowding ensued in the early s.

The patient count then rose to nearly 2, patients in a building with only rooms. The increase in popularity lead to the decline of patient treatment. Once unique in its mental practices, The Ridges fell prone to old time customs. Eventually, The Ridges reverted to hostile patient care including physical abuse, water treatment, shock therapy, and lobotomies.

By the Athens Asylum for the Criminally Insane bused its last patients out and closed its doors for good. All patients except one that is. On December 1,a female patient named Margaret Schilling disappeared from one of the active wards.

notorious asylums

On January 12, 42 days later, they found her lifeless body in the abandoned top floor of ward N. The ward at the time, abandoned and closed down for years, was used for sick, infectious patients. A search was done when the women went missing but apparently the only floor not checked was ward N.

When a maintenance man found her body, lifeless, cold, and unclothed, she had been dead for several weeks. The official cause of death was heart failure but why still remains a mystery. A stain in the shape of a human figure can still be seen on the floor where she died. It is said that her spirit can be seen peering from the window of the room in which she spent her final moments.

People have also said to hear disembodied female voices, lights, shadow people and the sound of squeaking gurneys. Danvers State Lunatic Asylum is probably one of the most notoriously haunted and intriguing places on earth. High atop Hawthorne Hill, overlooking the scenic countryside, sits an incomprehensibly massive structure. Donned the "witches castle on the hill".


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