Our understanding of our bodies and minds improves with every passing year. There are still many unanswered questions, and too many seemingly insurmountable medical challenges for comfort, but at least science tries to point toward answers.
In decades and centuries past, illnesses, both physical and mental were often treated with ineffective, inhumane, and often destructive ways in old insane asylums. People with psychological conditions, especially, tended to be viewed as subhuman. These unfortunate souls were born in the wrong era, and their stories are heartbreaking.
1. Female patients receiving Radium Therapy. Early 20th century.
2. Serbian Psychiatric Hospital. Photo taken by George Georgiou who worked in Kosovo and Serbia between 1999 and 2002.
3. A chair used to calm hysterical patients.
4. An insane asylum patient restrained by warders, Yorkshire, 1869, Henry Clarke.
5. A patient undergoing lateral cerebral diathermia treatment in the early 1920's. Diathermia used a galvanized current to jolt psychosis sufferers. Doctors eventually deemed it unsafe and unreliable.
6. Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA. Insane asylum, 1870's.
7. A chronic schizophrenic patient stands in a catatonic position. He maintained this uncomfortable position for hours.
8. The Pilgram Psychiatric Center in Long Island, NY, USA could house as many as 14,000 patients at a time.
9. Basement Dining.
10. Pilgrim State Hospital Brentwood NY, USA, the 1940s.
11. Lobotomy tools.
12. Philadelphia State Hospital at Byberry. A man in restraints, B, violent ward. 1945.
13. Mechanical slapping massage device at BC sanitarium.
14. Norwich State Hospital, Connecticut, USA.
15. A mother who has tuberculous and is on strict bed rest leaves her room at the sanatorium for a Sunday walk with her family.... but she does not leave her bed.
16. Made by a paranoid schizophrenic patient.
17. Cuenca, Spain, 1961 Insane asylum.
18. Sections of brain encased in wax. West Park Mental Hospital 'Mortuary.'
19. Washington, D.C., circa 1921. "Foundling Hospital, playroom." Tots at the Washington Asylum for 'Foundlings'
20. Self-harm at an Asylum, 1964.
21. Patients in steam cabinets, 1910.
22. An X-ray image of needles driven into the flesh by a psychiatric patient.
23. Abandoned asylum, Limbiate, Italy.
24. In the late 19th century it was a widely held belief that masturbation caused insanity and devices such as this were designed to prevent the wearer from touching or stimulating himself. They were often used in mental institutions.
25. 17th-Century Insanity Mask.
26. Hydrotherapy was first used in the early 1900s. Immersion in a tub of water to make a patient relax when agitated or relieve some ailment would last a few hours to overnight. 1936
27. Self-decorated patient, Asylum life in the 1800s.
28. Sunland Asylum...Dr. Freeman, the quack who invented lobotomies. The procedure turned most 'problem' patients into zombies.
29. A patient in a restraint chair at the West Riding Lunatic Asylum, Wakefield, Yorkshire ca. 1869