Z Ward: a perfectly preserved abandoned criminal asylum in South Australia.

In the sleepy suburb of Glenside, Adelaide, South Australia, rests a building long abandoned and protected from trespassers by a wall far taller than it first appears, the only complete Ha-Ha Wall in Australia. The wall doesn’t look too high from the outside but, once over it, it is soon discovered that on the other side, a deeper moat hinders any escape. The building is known as Z Ward, and it was for years closed off to the public, even though recently, access to the building was allowed to the…

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Portraits from Bedlam: 17 photographs from one of the most infamous mental hospital of the 19th Century

It was called Bethlem Royal Hospital, but it was nicknamed “Bedlam”, London’s famous horror hospital. Founded in 1247, It was the first mental health institution to be set up in Europe, and reaches up to the present day, resulting still active today in the heart of the English capital. Among the most famous treatments are the “rotational” treatments, invented by Erasmus Darwin, grandfather of the most famous Charles, which involved positioning the patient on a chair suspended in the air that was turned for hours, with the declared aim of…

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Trenton Psychiatric Hospital: the “madhouse of horrors” in New Jersey

Founded on May 15, 1848, It was called New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum, then it was renamed Trenton State Hospital and, after a few years, it took on the simplest name of Trenton Psychiatric Hospital. It is located in Trenton and Ewing, New Jersey, and this last name leaves no room for doubts about the intended use: it was a madhouse, but with lot of peculiarities surely not nice. Not an asylum like many others in the world, it was the first structure built in the USA according to the…

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24 photographs of the 1930s show the Life conditions in the New York Psychiatric Hospital.

These photos from Pilgrim State Hospital in the late 1930s blended clear-eyed reporting with an almost palpable compassion. The black and white photographs were taken by the LIFE’s Alfred Eisenstaedt photographer, one of the most famous in the 1900s, at the New York hospital in 1938. But what is perhaps most unsettling about the images is how terribly familiar they look, even today, three-quarters of a century after they were shot. “Continuous-flow bath is the best method for calming excited mental cases. With their bodies greased, the patients can remain…

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Vercelli Psychiatric Hospital

Historically, Vercelli mental asylum was built in the 1930s and was closed in 1978 after the Basaglia Law, that abolished mental hospitals in Italy. Of its 21 buildings, scattered over an area of 25,000 sqm, only one is still in use and it hosts the office of the environmental association ARPA, while the local health authority, which officially still manages the complex, left the area during the 1990s. This place is well known for the massacre of a group of fascist soldiers that happened between 12th and 13th May 1945…

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Colorno: the sad story of suffering in the abandoned asylum.

Colorno, the italian abandoned psychiatric hospital near Parma, still seems to make its walls speak. Inside now there is nothing, only crowded blankets, clothes, old weelchairs and scattered documents, but the souls of so many suffering still remains. It was closed in 1979 with the Basaglia law, which also takes on the modernization of the clinical setting of psychiatric assistance, establishing renewed human relationships with staff and society, fully recognizing the rights and necessity of a quality patient life, followed and cured even in territorial structures. Now the inner courtyard…

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