christopher payne   asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals

christopher payne asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals

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american architect and photographer christopher paine is documenting abandoned space within a functioning institution. asylum: inside the closed world of state mental hospitals’ is a collection of large-format photographs of seventy institutions in thirty US states, s hot between 2002 and 2008. massive state-funded mental hospitals, built to warehouse the mentally ill, were a feature of the american landscape for centuries. emptied out in the 1970s and 80s, they now sit abandoned, keeping their secrets. since many of these places no longer exist, his photographs serve as their final, ‘official’ record.

the book asylum: inside the closed world of state mental hospitals’ is published by MIT format: 11 3/4 x 10 1/4, 216 pp. features: 111 color photographs, 69 duotone photographs, 61 illustrations, hardcover ISBN-10: 0-262-01349-5 ISBN-13: 978-0-262-01349-9

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christopher payne   asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals ‘autopsy theatre’, st.elizabeths SH, washington DC, USA

exteriors designed by famous architects and interiors never intended to be seen again. payne shows how the hospitals functioned as self-contained communities, where almost everything of necessity was produced on site: food, water, power, and even clothing and furniture.

christopher payne   asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals ‘bathtub’, fairfield hills state hospital, connecticut, USA

christopher payne   asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals ‘bathtubes’, oregon state hospital, oregon, USA

christopher payne   asylum : inside the closed world of state mental hospitals ‘patient toothbrushes’, hudson river state hospital, poughkeepsie, NY, USA ______________________________________________________________________

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  • i would recommend a great book from thomas szasz, ‘mental illness as myth’, published in 1961. makes one think!

    This is [url=http://www.szasz.com/]szasz.com[/url]

    “Perhaps most radically … Thomas Szasz deemed mental illness a mythic and monstrous beast,
    and proclaimed that ‘mental illness’ was a fiction. Insanity, he has continued ever since
    to claim, is not a real disease, whose nature has been progressively scientifically unveiled;
    mental illness is rather a myth, forged by psychiatrists for their own greater glory.
    Over the centuries, medical men and their supporters have been involved, argues Szasz,
    in a self-serving ‘manufacture of madness.’ In this, he indicts both the pretensions of
    organic psychiatry and the psychodynamic followers of Freud, whose notion of the
    ‘unconscious’ in effect breathed new life into the obsolete metaphysical Cartesian dualism.
    For Szasz, any expectation of finding the etiology of mental illness in body or mind —
    above all in some mental underworld — must be a lost cause, a dead-end, a linguistic error,
    and even an exercise in bad faith. ‘Mental illness’ or the ‘unconscious’ are not realities
    but at best metaphors. In promoting such ideas, psychiatrists have either been involved in
    improper cognitive imperialism or have rather naively pictorialized the psyche — reifying
    the fictive substance behind the substantive. Properly speaking, contends Szasz, insanity
    is not a disease with origins to be excavated, but a behavior with meanings to be decoded.
    Social existence is a rule-governed game-playing ritual in which the mad person bends the
    rules and exploits the loopholes. Since the mad person is engaged in social performances
    that obey certain expectations so as to defy others, the pertinent questions are not about
    the origins, but about the conventions, of insanity. In this light, Szasz dismisses
    traditional approaches to the history of madness, as questions mal posés, and aims to
    reformulate them.” –From: Porter, R., Introduction, in Porter, R. and Wright, D., eds.,The
    Confinement of the Insane: International Perspectives, 1800-1965 (Cambridge: Cambridge
    University Press, 2003); pp. 1-19; p. 2.

    KJG
    Nov 26, 2009
  • The comment above is more touching or shocking than the photographs. Dehumanization has a very different face nowadays…

    anna
    Nov 24, 2009
  • While it may be true that many of these institutions now lay empty what is also true is that the restraints of straps and walls is now replaces by drugs. when Sargent pioneered the use of thorazine here and Freeman and Watts, the lobotomy.

    Now we have millions of people, young and old, even fetal who have been place on psychoactive drugs. There was a time when few were on these drugs but on any given day 20-30 per cent of the people I see are on these drugs. No one counsels them they just write prescriptions for drugs to numb one to what bothers them. Perhaps someday soon we will see not vacant institutions but vacant eyes..

    zenondudasculpture.com
    Nov 23, 2009

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