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Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals
Contributor(s): Payne, Christopher (Author), Sacks, Oliver (Introduction by)

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ISBN: 0262013495     ISBN-13: 9780262013499
Publisher: MIT Press
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Binding Type: Hardcover - See All Available Formats & Editions
Published: September 2009
Qty:

Annotation: Powerful photographs of the grand exteriors and crumbling interiors of America's abandoned state mental hospitals.

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Additional Information
BISAC Categories:
- Photography | Photoessays & Documentaries
- Photography | Subjects & Themes - Architectural & Industrial
- Psychology | History
Dewey: 362.21
LCCN: 2009003622
Age Level: 18-UP
Grade Level: 13-UP
Series: Mit Press
Physical Information: 0.98" H x 11.96" W x 10.4" (3.85 lbs) 209 pages
Features: Dust Cover, Illustrated, Price on Product, Table of Contents
Review Citations: New York Times Book Review 08/30/2009 pg. 17
Booklist 09/01/2009 pg. 15
 
Descriptions, Reviews, Etc.
Publisher Description:
"Payne is a visual poet as well as an architect by training, and he has spent years finding and photographing these buildings--often the pride of their local communities and a powerful symbol of humane caring for those less fortunate. His photographs are beautiful images in their own right, and they also pay tribute to a sort of public architecture that no longer exists. They focus both on the monumental and the mundane, the grand facades and the peeling paint." --Oliver Sacks, "Asylum" For more than half the nation's history, vast mental hospitals were a prominent feature of the American landscape. From the mid-nineteenth century to the early twentieth, over 250 institutions for the insane were built throughout the United States; by 1948, they housed more than a half million patients. The blueprint for these hospitals was set by Pennsylvania hospital superintendant Thomas Story Kirkbride: a central administration building flanked symmetrically by pavilions and surrounded by lavish grounds with pastoral vistas. Kirkbride and others believed that well-designed buildings and grounds, a peaceful environment, a regimen of fresh air, and places for work, exercise, and cultural activities would heal mental illness. But in the second half of the twentieth century, after the introduction of psychotropic drugs and policy shifts toward community-based care, patient populations declined dramatically, leaving many of these beautiful, massive buildings--and the patients who lived in them--neglected and abandoned. Architect and photographer Christopher Payne spent six years documenting the decay of state mental hospitals like these, visiting seventy institutions in thirty states. Through his lens we see splendid, palatial exteriors (some designed by such prominent architects as H. H. Richardson and Samuel Sloan) and crumbling interiors--chairs stacked against walls with peeling paint in a grand hallway; brightly colored toothbrushes still hanging on a rack; stacks of suitcases, never packed for the trip home. Accompanying Payne's striking and powerful photographs is an essay by Oliver Sacks (who described his own experience working at a state mental hospital in his book Awakenings). Sacks pays tribute to Payne's photographs and to the lives once lived in these places, "where one could be both mad and safe."

Contributor Bio(s): Payne, Christopher: - Christopher Payne is a photographer and practicing architect in New York City and the author of New York's Forgotten Substations: The Power Behind the Subway.Sacks, Oliver: - The late Oliver Sacks was a neurologist and the author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, Musicophilia, and other books.
 
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