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Asylums

Photographer Christopher Payne‘s series Asylum is the result of six years worth of work visiting over 70 abandoned mental institutions across the US.

Speaking of the idea behind this project, he says: “From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, more than 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948 they housed over half a million patients. But over the next thirty years, with the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these massive buildings neglected and abandoned.”

Of course “community-based care” is utter nonsense since we now house the mentally ill in our prisons where 25% of all inmates have been diagnosed with acute mental illness, and many end up in the hell of solitary confinement. Although conditions in these asylums was often terrible the people confined to them were actually considered to have true pathologies and were being treated as such.

 

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