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The Most Famous and Notorious Insane Asylums in History

The Most Famous and Notorious Insane Asylums in History

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Published by: joliexdame on Dec 08, 2012
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09/25/2013

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The Most Famous and  Notorious Insane Asylums in History
Before 1844, the mentally ill were stashed away in prisons and the basements of public buildings. But in the middle of the 19th century,reformers like Dorothea Dix pushed to improve the standing of those withserious mental illness, an effort that led to the construction of sprawlingpsychiatric hospitals with names like the State Lunatic Hospital at Danversand the Athens Lunatic Asylum.Many of these new facilities were built under the Kirkbride Plan,an architectural guideline which ensured the maximum amount of privacy andcomfort for the patients. However the concept of "building as treatment"soon fell out of favor, and most American mental asylums becameovercrowded Gothic palaces of abuse and neglect.In the latter half of the 20th century, the invention of anti-psychotic drugslike Thorazine triggered a movement toward "deinstitutionalization" -- somuch so that by the year 2000 almost all of the Kirkbride buildings had been abandoned or downsized. The shells of the grand structures, and talesof the horrors they housed, still remain. Read on to check them out.
Danvers State Hospital
 
 
Built in 1878 to house 500, Danvers State Hospital (formally known theState Lunatic Hospital at Danvers) had over 2,300 patients at its peak inthe 1940s. Needless to say, conditions were hellish. Danvers is the rumored birthplace of the lobotomy, and doctors used that barbaric procedure, as well as electroshock therapy, to the keep the inmates in line.The facility closed in 1992, but a plan to turn the building into condosstalled when it promptly burned down.The structure's cursed history shouldn't be that much of a surprise: It was built on plot of land onceowned by John Hathorne, the most unforgiving of the Salem Witch Trial judges. 
The Athens Lunatic Asylum
 The Athens Lunatic Asylum, or The Ridges, has been considered one of themore haunted places on Earth ever since an incident in 1978,in which the lifeless, naked body of a missing female patient was found in an unheatedroom that was locked from the inside. Her corpse left a stain, and legendhas it this darkened silhouette has remained ever since, despite numerousattempts to scrub it away.It's also interesting to note that in 1876, two years after The Ridges opened,the
 
number-one-listed cause of insanity among its male patients wasmasturbation, while menstrual issues were high up on the list of ills forcommitted females.
 
 
McLean Hospital
 With prominent former patients like John Nash, Ray Charles, ZeldaFitzgerald, Sylvia Plath and David Foster Wallace, McLean Hospital inBelmont, Mass., has long had a reputation as the insane asylum for the richand famous. The private facility was the setting for "The Bell Jar" and "Girl,Interrupted," and a teenage James Taylor  wrote one of his first songs,  "Knockin' 'Round the Zoo," about his stay at McLean.In fact, the mellow-voiced singing legend credits the Thorazine-filled ninemonths he spent committed at McLean as a "life saver." Today, McLeanHospital is one of the most well-regarded psychiatric facilities in the world.
Pilgram Psychiatric Center
 This Long Island asylum is most famous for its sheer size -- housing about14,000 patients during its peak in the 1950s. The massive facility also

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