In the past, people with mental illnesses were treated horribly in this country. The number of incidents of abuse in mental institutions in the last hundred years alone is staggering. Not that long ago, so-called "procedures" were more like torture methods.
That's why it's no surprise that insane asylums are home to some pretty serious paranormal activity. Here are a few of the creepiest abandoned mental institutions in the country, and the dark stories behind them.
Danvers Insane Asylum
This castle-like hospital in Danvers, Massachusetts, was used to treat mentally-ill criminals -- many of whom were violent. The murderous inmates often killed each other and the staff. It became so severally understaffed that it wasn't uncommon for bodies to be left rotting in the wings for days. Spirits are often found gliding through the halls and drifting around in the cemetery out back.
Rolling Hills Asylum
When it was opened as a farm in East Bethany, New York, in 1827, it was used to house poor, downtrodden, and often mentally-ill people. Since the '90s, the building has hosted various antique shops, but former patients can still be seen and heard all over the grounds.
Richardson Olmsted Complex
Built in 1870 in Buffalo, New York, this hospital was often poorly staffed, which often led to patients sleeping in their own filth. It was also an "experimental" hospital. Most of these "experiments" involved trying to pulverize people's brains until they died. This might explain the deafening screams that can sometimes be heard on the property.
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
This hand-cut sandstone building (the second largest hand-cut stone building in the world, just after the Kremlin) was built during the Civil War in West Virginia. It's been the home of several famous lunatics over the years, including Charles Manson himself. Another former patient, Ruth, is said to haunt the building to this day, and rumor has it that she's even caused visitors harm. Men in Civil War uniforms are often seen as well.
Located in East Vincent, Pennsylvania, this institution was opened in 1908 and was basically a den of abuse and scandal. Patients were chained to walls, and children were forced into cribs for years at a time. There were numerous murders by both patients and staff. Ghosts have been known to yell at visitors, warning them to get out.
Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital
The name already sounds like a place where bad shit goes down. Folk singer Woodie Guthrie affectionately called it "Gravestone" during his time there in the '50s, since so many patients died while he was there. Built in New Jersey in 1876, the building closed in 2003 after reports of sexual abuse circulated. Those brave enough to enter say that they see shadows of former patients.
Hudson River State Hospital
Opened in Fairview, New York, in 1871, this structure was built as a mental institution and a tuberculosis hospital. The voices heard in its halls remind people of the abuse that took place there long ago.
Willard Asylum for the Chronically Insane
They said that once you entered Willard, you never got out. That may be still true for the patients who died there hundreds of years ago. Built in 1869, one of the most horrific treatments in this asylum was the practice of hanging patients by their thumbs until they calmed down. One of the many ghosts on the premises is the spirit of a red-haired lady who was once a doctor there...before she herself was driven mad.
As horrible as patients had it back then, people seeking psychiatric treatment today still don't have it great. Your local psychiatric institution may one day be a place where broken spirits reconvene.