Mental illness has long been associated with shame. Families have sought to hide or make excuses for those suffering from everything from depression to psychosis. Those who were afflicted were often put away in asylums, many never to see the outside of those walls again.
Throughout history, journalists have taken the initiative to reveal the inner horrors of these “insane asylums.” As early as 1887 when Nellie Bly pretended to be insane to get herself admitted to Blackwell’s Islands Insane Asylum, they have been the subject of curiosity. The facilities themselves have often taken on a mystique their walls whisper of past horrors witnessed.
A new book by Christopher Payne, Asylum: Inside The Closed World Of State Mental Hospitals captures their story in photos.