Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
For more than half the nation's history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients.
The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital sup
Patient poem on a basement wall,
Augusta State Hospital, Augusta, Maine
" If my heart could speak,
I'm sure it would say, I wish I were
someplace else Today.
Among these books, a great amount of knowledge there must be,
but what good is Knowledge where others carry the keys.
Through the last ten years many improvements have been made,
but the final words seem to say, don't forget, my good man you're still
a patient here today. Intelligence,ability,and knowledge surely will
never l ...more
The pictures were good - some sad, some surprising (bowling alleys and patient-run T ...more
The prologue and beginning essay explain the institution of mental health treatment in the 19th and early 20th century. I was fascinated by the explanation of how the original meaning of "asylum" (to mean a refuge) was behind the use of the term to describe mental treatment facilities. The use of "moral treatment" in dealing with the mentally ill was unique to the time and required a certain type of physical environment. ...more
Then, it's off to the amazing photos. Payne captures the beauty of the architecture, the feeling of isolation and protection created by these mammoth buildings situated among rolling hills and countryside.
He also captures the feeling of desolation and hopelessness inside the walls, sharing photos of abandoned equipment, empty work roo ...more
This book was very moving, more than I expected a book primarily made up of photographs to be. It was a large book, what might be considered a "coffee table book," documenting the buildings that used to house the nations many extensive mental institutions. During the process of creating this book, Mr. Payne visited more than 70 institutions, in varying states of u ...more
This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever read. The photographs portray stunning refuges for the insane, designed by some of the greatest architects of the last two centuries. These asylums are now crumbling, either subsiding back to earth or being torn down by developers to create apartments for supposedly normal people like you and me. ...more
This book contains images from the Fergus Falls Hospital as well as many others around the United States. I am wowed by the Kirkbride Architecture and the massive size of the buildings and grounds. ...more
I cannot ...more
I was especially touched by the remnants of the residents: the suitcases left behind, the straitjackets and clothes still in decent condition, and the countless numbers of grave markers a ...more
The photography is stunning, and really captures the essence of the asylums. The failed institutions, once grand buildings and considered the pinnacle of human compassion and medical knowledge, now dilapidated and ruined, a failed experiment that claimed far too many lives. There isn't much to actually *read*, but I think the photos speak for themselves. (a thousand words and all that.. ...more
For those who found daily life overwhelming, it was an accessible, inviolable refuge and a peaceful shelter. A safe sanctuary, which ...more
I saw the actual art exhibit when it came to the Kennedy Museum of Art, shown in one of the last few remaining Kirkbride asylums, The Ridges. It was a powerful, moving exhibit that paid such a powerful tribute to the not so long ago past of psycholo ...more
It's also a connection to come across one of the oldest asylum's in the US as in the backyard of where you grew up (Utica, NY) with it's beautifu ...more