Horror October is hosted by Leanne @ Literary Excursion!
For some reason, I’ve always had a strange fascination for asylums. Insane asylums. Yep, you heard me. It’s just… it’s so strange that people tend to be afraid of them and turn them into something to be feared. I mean, I get that crazy people sometimes do crazily dangerous and deadly things. But is it REALLY the lunatics in the “loony bin” that gives us the jeepers? WARNING: This post is funner when read at night, lights off, all alone…
Insane asylums have been turned into a form of pop culture. They appear in my horror movies, and even video games, and even though you’re told that they have been abandoned for years, they always turn out not to be. But here’s the thing: I don’t think it’s the crazy people who once lived there that actually scare us. It’s the stories surrounding these abandoned places. At least, that’s what I think.
Before they were abandoned…
Old asylums were known for mistreating their patients — living conditions were horrible, patients weren’t properly cared for (it wasn’t uncommon to see patients walking around aimlessly, stark naked), and the nurses didn’t give a crap about their job other than that it paid the bills. It’s also not unusual to hear about the abundance of deaths that go on in this place — especially suicides. These deaths might prove to be a problem… Furthermore, the head doctors themselves were more than a little cuckoo. They’d do all kinds of things to the patients: most notably lobotomy. This is where the frontal part of your brain is removed. Some doctors claimed that lobotomy presented stunning results. More often than not, though, they only served to cripple the patient, or make their condition worse.
So we have filthy asylums, neglectful, oftentimes evil, nurses, and mad doctors with their crazy experiments. It’s no wonder everyone feared the madhouse.
But get this: it’s not the horrors that were performed on the patients that actually give us the creeps. For me, it’s the rumors, the hauntings, the stories surrounding these supposedly sinister places. C’mon. You’ve heard of them. Mostly. But I’m going to share some of my favorites (and also the ones that raised the hairs on my arms.)
The Ridges — Athens, Ohio
The official name for this asylum is Athens Asylum for the Criminally Insane. On January 12, 1979, the corpse of a female patient, Margaret Schilling was found in an abandoned floor of the asylum. She had disappeared one month earlier, but her body had only been found now. It is said that her body left a human-shaped stain on the floor, and her spirit can be seen peering into the window of this abandoned ward. People have also claimed to have heard disembodied female voices, squeaking gurneys, and to have seen mysterious “shadow people.”
Byberry Mental Hospital — Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
This mental institute was known for its brutality against its patients: padded cells, restraining devices, lobotomies, electric shocks, and cruel beatings by nurses were all just some of the things Byberry’s patients had to face. Apparently, there is a huge network of catacombs built under the hospital as well, and one scary legend is that a former mentally ill and violent patient still lurks in these tunnels, holding a large knife, and lying in wait for the next unsuspecting person brave enough to explore the institute. Freaky, huh?
Topeka State Hospital — Topeka, Kansas
Okay, so this story’s more disturbing than creepy, but: apparently, in the early 20th century, a reporter visited the asylum and saw a patient who had been strapped down for so long that his skin began to grow over the restraints. And as if that wasn’t enough, other patients were chained up, naked, and many of them were faced with infinite boredom. They were given nothing to do, so they sat in rocking chairs and stared into space.
New Jersey State Lunatic Asylum — Trenton, New Jersey
This is one case where I think that the head doctor was crazier than his patients. When Dr. Henry Cotton became director of the institute in 1907, he introduced some seriously disturbing treatment methods for his patients. Cotton believed that mental illness was actually an illness — caused by infections. Viruses. Bacteria. Because of this, he thought that the only way to cure retardation was to remove these infections.
Can you see where I’m going with this?
He began to remove patients’ teeth, even when x-ray scans showed no visible infections. And he didn’t stop there. Soon he was removing other organs, like the gall bladder, stomachs, ovaries, testicles, colon tracts, and others. What’s worse is that he made all these experiments public. No one bothered to investigate. Cotton remained at the asylum until 1930, three years before his death. I mean, if this guy isn’t psycho, I don’t know what else to call him.
Waverly Hills Sanatorium — Kentucky
Before you start thinking about The Wizards of Waverly Place and cool magic: this facility is nothing like that. It is responsible for 64,000 deaths, and many places throughout it is haunted. For example, people have claimed to have seen an old woman wailing, with her arms and legs chained and all bloodied up. Two kids also haunt the third floor (OMG, deja vu!), and apparently, people have heard the sound of a ball bouncing around, or even bouncing down the stairs. And that’s not all: on the roof, there are ghostly sounds of children singing “ring around the rosie.” Nothing like a good children’s rhyme to scare everyone, right?
But the scariest and most unsafe place in Waverly Hills is the fourth floor. On this floor, much of the building has fallen into ruin, so tourists aren’t allowed to go into certain rooms because the floors have collapsed and the building isn’t stable. But there have been reports on doors being closed by themselves — and the wind most definitely isn’t strong enough to do that. Ghostly silhouettes can also be seen lurking around on the walls, and more than once, a full body apparition of a man in what seems to be a lab coat has appeared, only to disappear into a different room.
And we know the doctors are the most dangerous ones here…
Over to you!
Did you enjoy this post? I hope you had a nice, good fright! Because while researching all these stories — late at night, all by myself downstairs — I started getting really creeped out and started hearing strange noises. Pretty sure that was all my imagination, though. 😀 Anyway, despite these chilling circumstances, I think it would be insanely cool to visit some of these asylums. What do you think? Do you have any scary stories you want to share? Please do!