Insane Asylums Intro

Mental Asylums
1800 - Today
The first mental asylums were
built in the 8 century
• Buildings housed the mentally ill with
little to no treatment
• Major European cities began
establishing actual asylums between
1200 and 1800
• With the passing of the 1828
Madhouse Act, England granted
money to build asylums within major
cities to house the mentally ill
Unfortunately …
• Early asylums simply placed the ill into
a prison or group home setting.
Nothing was done to improve their
state of being
• During the 18th century, certain mental
hospitals in England would charge a
penny to allow outsiders to come in
and witness the “crazies.”
• In 1700, the word patient was finally
used with the mentally ill – before that
they were only referred to as lunatics.
• In 1720, mental hospitals finally began
to separate patients by illness
• Around this time, mental illness
became accepted as a disease
Mental Asylums in the United
• Unlike other regions of
the world, U.S. asylums
tended to focus on
treatment instead of
• Treatments, however,
varied from promising to
The Patients
• Those admitted ranged from the
mentally insane to those with what we
would consider mild disorders today.
• New mothers, misunderstood
teenagers, the depressed, the elderly,
the addicted and felons were often
put into asylums because families
were embarrassed by them or didn’t
know what to do with them
Government Asylums
• Many U.S. asylums were
funded by taxpayers.
• Tri-State or regional hospitals
were located in rural settings.
• This allowed plenty of land at
a cheap price which
protected the patients and
the people living around the
Ohio Asylums
Longview State Hospital
(Cincinnati – 1838)
The Lunatic Asylum of Ohio
(Columbus – 1838)
Cleveland State Hospital
Dayton State Hospital
Athens State Hospital
Toledo State Hospital
Massillon State Hospital
Lima State Hospital
U.S. Hospital Design
• Many state hospitals in the
United States were built on the
Kirkbride Plan (an architectural
style meant to help cure the
The Kirkbride Plan
• Focused on using light and space as
a healing device.
• Wings and wards were created with
wide hallways, large windows, and
spacious main rooms.
The Athens Insane Asylum
The Athens Mental Asylum
• Then
The Athens Mental Asylum
• Now
The Athens Asylum for the
• The Athens Mental Health
Center opened on January 9,
1874 on 1,000 acres purchased
from the Coate’s farm.
• With the Civil War ending,
asylums were needed to
house vets suffering from post
traumatic stress disorder.
The Grounds
• The grounds of the Athens
Insane Asylum were
designed by the same
person who designed
Central Park.
• The people of Athens often
spent their weekends in the
parks and ponds
surrounding the hospital,
intermingling with the
Athens Mental Asylum
• 544 patient rooms
• It opened with 200 patients
• Calmer patients
participated in
recreational activities like
boating, painting, dances,
and picnics
• They were offered church
services and plays, and
were free to roam the
The Children’s Ward
• This building housed both ill
children and healthy children
who had ill parents
• A tunnel connected this
building to the main buildings.
This was so that mothers
could visit their children
• The main building had a
viewing porch where parents
could watch as their children
played outside
The Evolution of a Name
• As times changed, so did Athens Mental
Hospital’s name
• Athens Hospital for the Insane
• Athens Asylum for the Insane
• Athens State Hospital
• Southeastern Ohio Mental Health Center
• Athens Mental Health Center
• Athens Mental Heath and Mental
Retardation Center
• Athens Mental Health and Development
• Athens Mental Heath Center (again)
The Hospital’s Growth
• The population of the
Athens Asylum shot up from
200 when it opened to
nearly 2,000 in the early
• Overcrowding led to the
sharing of patient rooms
and a severe decline in the
quality of treatment
administered by a staff
which had barely
increased in size since 1874
Athens Insane Asylum 1908
The Treatments
Water Treatment
• Patients were
submerged in icecold water for
extended periods of
• Sometimes they
were wrapped in or
restrained in sheets
which had been
soaked in ice water
Aggressive Water Treatment
• Cold wet packs
– Patients were wrapped in ice
cold, wet sheets
– Used to control movements and
restrain people
• Hydrobaths
– Patients were restrained in warm
baths and covered with canvas
– Used on patients who suffered
from seizures
Shock Therapy
• Electric shocks were
administered to patients
submerged in water tanks
or, more commonly, directly
to the temples by the
application of brine soaked
• A patient held a rubber
piece in his mouth to
prevent him from biting his
tongue off during the
convulsions which followed
a treatment
Lobotomy (Original)
• Patients had their skulls opened
and their neural passages
separated midway through the
• This procedure killed many people.
• Those who survived forgot many of
their depressive or psychotic
• They also forgot a lot of other
Lobotomy (Trans-Orbital)
• Developed by Dr. Walter J.
Freeman in the early 1950’s.
• The Lobotomist
Housing of Patients
• Overcrowding was the norm
• Patients were stacked in bunks
and even locked in cages to
ensure security
• Some violent patients were
placed in bare rooms with no
furniture or even a toilet. Their
clothes were taken and they
were forced to remain in the
room for hours at a time
Patients often left messages
due to their mental state
Mental Health Treatment
• Testing and observation
• Group and individual counseling
• Therapy
• Recreational therapy
• Modern, FDA approved medication
• Families also receive counseling and
are involved in the process
The Downfall
Closing the state hospitals
• During the 1980’s Ronald Reagan
cut funding for state mental
• Mental hospitals were given very
little notice that they would be
• Only a few patients were moved
to other hospitals or prisons
• Most patients were released into
the surrounding towns with only the
clothes they were wearing
Closing the state hospitals
• Many of the buildings were shut
down on only a few days notice
• The Children’s Ward at Athens was
shut down very quickly resulting in
many kids being separated from
their parents
• Prior to renovations in 2000, the
rooms were still decorated for
Christmas, as it was shut down
during the holiday season.
The Cemeteries
The Cemeteries
• Most of the people who died while
in mental asylums were buried at the
asylum’s cemetery.
• Gravestones were numbered and
often records were misplaced .
The Cemeteries
• At Athens, OU buried medical
cadavers in the same
cemeteries used for people
who died in the insane asylum.
The Athens Insane Asylum
Today …
• Buildings consist of classrooms,
art museum, storage, and
• OU discussed putting dorms
within the buildings, but that
didn’t go over well
• Many of the previous patients
who were not transferred were
released into the city and still
live in the area
The Stain
Look closely …
The Stain
• On December 1, 1978, patient
Margaret Schilling disappeared
from one of the active wards.
• On January 12, 1979, they found
her body in the abandoned top
floor of ward N. 20
• This ward had been used for sick,
infectious patients, and had been
closed down for years.
The Stain
• They had searched the
hospital for the woman when
they realized she was missing,
but apparently hadn’t looked
in ward N. 20.
• When a maintenance man
discovered her body lying on
the floor in front of a window,
she had been dead for several
The Stain
• The official cause of death
was heart failure – probably
due to her exposure to the
December cold in an
unheated section of the
• She apparently locked herself
in the ward as a game, hiding
from hospital employees
The Stain
• Before she died she
took off her clothes
and folded them
neatly nearby
• Over the weeks she
was there, a negative
was formed on the
concrete due to a
reaction with the
decomposing body,
sunlight and concrete.
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