Today's Daily Dirty Diary


An issue that has remained taboo for centuries, mental health continues to spark great debate in our society. Nowadays, the accepted terminologies for treatment facilities are mental health hospitals or institutions; however in the late 19th century and even the former part of the 20th century, the medical world referred to these houses as ‘asylums’. Asylum is defined as “a place offering protection or safety for those with physical or mental impairments”. Clearly, the loose definition is open for interpretation when faced with the reality of these chilling photographs of abandoned asylums in Europe and America. Power chords hanging from ceilings, crematoriums, soiled gurneys, and torture devices leave little to the imagination.

Coupled with evidence of practices condoned by the medical community, could our fantasized interpretation of asylums via popular culture pale in comparison? Dr. Henry Cotton, the director of Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey from 1907-1930, firmly asserted that mental illness was directly related to bodily infections. According to the megalomaniac, removing testicles, ovaries, stomachs, and even teeth, sometimes against a patient’s objections, would rectify the situation.

Although there have been vast advances in medical practices , mental health continues to be an issue that societies all over the world are redefining. Dirty Magazine came upon these revealing photographs of the most notable abandoned asylums:

Armand Auclerc Western State Hospital in West Virgina (1864-1994)

Cane Hill Asylum in London (1883-1990)

Overbrook Asylum (1896-1975)

Hartwood Mental Hospital in Scotland (1890-1998)

King’s Park Psychaitric Center in New York (1885-1996)

Poveglia Island Asylum (1922-1968)

Trenton Psychiatric Hospital in New Jersey (founded in 1848)



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