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Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
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Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

4.5 7
by Christopher Payne, Oliver Sacks
 

ISBN-10: 0262013495

ISBN-13: 9780262013499

Pub. Date: 09/04/2009

Publisher: MIT Press

For more than half the nation's history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients. The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania

Overview

For more than half the nation's history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients. The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendant Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas. Kirkbride and others believed that well-designed buildings and grounds, a peaceful environment, a regimen of fresh air, and places for work, exercise, and cultural activities would heal mental illness. But in the second half of the twentieth century, after the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these beautiful, massive buildings — and the patients who lived in them — neglected and abandoned.

Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states. Through his lens we see splendid, palatial exteriors (some designed by such prominent architects as H. H. Richardson and Samuel Sloan) and crumbling interiors — chairs stacked against walls with peeling paint in a grand hallway; brightly colored toothbrushes still hanging on a rack; stacks of suitcases, never packed for the trip home. Accompanying Payne's striking and powerful photographs is an essay by Oliver Sacks (who described his own experience working at a state mental hospital in his book Awakenings). Sacks pays tribute to Payne's photographs and to the lives once lived in these places, "where one could be both mad and safe."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780262013499
Publisher:
MIT Press
Publication date:
09/04/2009
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
209
Sales rank:
392,289
Product dimensions:
10.40(w) x 12.00(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

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Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 7 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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faithfulsherper More than 1 year ago
A stunning collection of work by Christopher Payne that captures a lost world hidden from society since the turn of the 20th century. While the patients are long gone, and most of the hospitals now demolished, the images call to question the decades old debate about how we treat our mentally ill citizens. The interior shots are particularly poignant and moving, from patient toothbrushes in a cabinet, to piles of gym sneakers... Oliver Sacks provides an excellent introduction to the book, helping to frame the history and concept of asylum.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, informative book; beautifully photographed.