I recently gave a TEDx Talk on the stigma and misconceptions attached to the American insane asylum. I conclude by asking the listener to change their viewpoint - or if they cannot manage that, to at least acknowledge the history and preserve the buildings. Please check it out & share with your followers to get the word out!
Most insane asylums were abandoned so abruptly that they still contain the terrifying remnants of the past. We can only imagine the unorthodox and immoral practices that went on behind these closed doors.
On the outskirts of a busy city lay an intimidating building. Gothic steeples pierce the Heavens, and shingles upon the roof were crooked from age and obvious wear and tear. Those who resided in the building clearly weren’t much for visitors as the winding path to get to even the front gate unraveled beyond gnarled trees and less-than-friendly signs depicting symbols of what seemed like witchcraft.
Townspeople who were brave enough to visit were greeted kindly enough, but were quickly turned away. When they returned back to the city, prying eyes suddenly had questions. People cannot stand a good mystery, it seems. One would recount their journey with a bland sense of disappointment, as they had expected something much more grand than what they received, while others spoke of blood seeping from the eyes of those who greeted them at the door.
Despite contradictory stories, most city folk had come to the conclusion that it was merely an abandoned insane asylum refurbished into a harmless Satanic church. And they were right about one thing, it certainly did act as an asylum. An asylum for those whom society had left a bad taste in the mouths of. These outcasts wanted meaning and they found it in service to something greater.
The followers of this church followed a hierarchy of sorts. Most members went about their lives nameless, being referred to as ‘brother’ or ‘sister’. Many wore distinguishing masks or veils, but it was only a requirement for those known as ‘ghouls’; the others just liked to wear them to feel important. The commonplace sisters or servants worked with the ghouls to please their common leader, but unlike the ghouls, they never much received the opportunity to interact with the man face-to-face.
They were all led by an older man who called himself Papa Emeritus. He never visited the dorms located in the church’s separate wings, just the main hall when there was a ritual or ceremony, and occasionally he could be found in his office. As far as leaders go, he ran everything with benevolent silence but a strong fist.
On this day, the church was busy, and everyone would be seeing their powerful leader. They were preparing for the most grand ceremony they’d held since the church’s establishment. It was of utmost importance that the church be made tidy, and the nave where members would sit to witness the ceremony would be decorated accordingly. The aisle separating the rows of pews was lined with gold, and sisters worked frantically to iron out any wrinkles or creases - anything to please Papa.
While church members scrambled inside, preparing, two others clad in black dresses, with one donning a veil, walked up the gnarled path leading to the church doors. A young boy of 6 years walked between them, each hand clasped in the cold grip of the women to the right and left of him.
A lot of people leave graffiti on the walls of abandoned insane asylums in order to reflect the feelings of those once trapped inside. These modern markings serve as a haunting reminder of the horrors experienced by the mentally ill many years ago.