Asylum on the Hill: History of a Healing Landscape

Overview

Asylum on the Hill is the story of a great American experiment in psychiatry, a revolution in care for those with mental illness, as seen through the example of the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Built in Southeast Ohio after the Civil War, the asylum embodied the nineteenth-century “gold standard” specifications of moral treatment. Stories of patients and their families, politicians, caregivers, and community illustrate how a village in the coalfields of the Hocking River Valley responded to a national impulse to ...

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Overview

Asylum on the Hill is the story of a great American experiment in psychiatry, a revolution in care for those with mental illness, as seen through the example of the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Built in Southeast Ohio after the Civil War, the asylum embodied the nineteenth-century “gold standard” specifications of moral treatment. Stories of patients and their families, politicians, caregivers, and community illustrate how a village in the coalfields of the Hocking River Valley responded to a national impulse to provide compassionate care based on a curative landscape, exposure to the arts, outdoor exercise, useful occupation, and personal attention from a physician. Although ultimately doomed by overcrowding and overshadowed by the rise of new models of psychiatry, for twenty years the therapeutic community at Athens pursued moral treatment therapy with energy and optimism. Ziff’s fresh presentation of America’s nineteenth-century asylum movement shows how the Athens Lunatic Asylum accommodated political, economic, community, family, and individual needs and left an architectural legacy that has been uniquely renovated and repurposed. 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
 “Anyone who peruses Ziff’s work will not have an easy time putting it down. This book is more than a history of a time, a place, a movement, and a people. It is instead a sensitive and centered examination . . . her portraits of people who influenced the asylum are wonderfully rendered . . . alive and moving.”

—Samuel T. Gladding, Wake Forest University

Asylum On The Hill is a fascinating and poignant history of one hospital, its patients and staff. Accompanied by rare, never released photos and records, Ziff’s easy narrative weaves the personal accounts of daily life with the broader context of post-Civil War America. What’s truly remarkable about Ziff’s book is that it tells a parallel story of our nation’s history and the forces that shaped not only the asylums but also the many other fundamental public institutions that survive today. A highly engaging work that makes the past come alive.”

—Christopher Payne, author of Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

“This well-written, accurately researched historical work tells the story of the Athens Lunatic Asylum… . This is a work that brings the reader inside the life and times of patient care in Ohio. Asylum on the Hill is highly readable, enlightening, and for those who currently work in the field of psychiatry, the story is familiar and somewhat poignant… . Highly recommended.”

Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780821419731
  • Publisher: Ohio University Press
  • Publication date: 3/29/2012
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 204
  • Sales rank: 795,657
  • Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Katherine Ziff is a scholar of psychiatric history and asylums. She is a public school mental health counselor and an artist. Ziff has published articles in History of Psychiatry, Counselor Education and Supervision, Creativity in Mental Health, New Research in Mental Health, and elsewhere. 

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Table of Contents

Foreword Samuel T. Gladding vii

Preface ix

Acknowledgments xiii

1 The Moral Treatment Experiment: "A Magnificent Site Overlooking the Hocking Valley" 1

2 Patients: "Each Admission Represented a Poor, Helpless, Hopeless Sufferer" 25

3 Architecture: "Space, Light and Air to Each Patient" 63

4 Politics: "Partisan Interests and Personal Place-Seeking" 105

5 Landscape: "Of Beautiful and Varied Scenery" 125

6 Caregivers: "To Take Proper Care of the Insane Requires Talents of a High Order" 144

Epilogue 165

Notes 193

Bibliography 209

Index 215

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