Barlow State Hospital
Located at an undisclosed place in United States of America
Photo © 2006 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Barlow State Hospital* History
This asylum was founded in the 1850s to "treat and restrain" inebriates (drunkards) in a idyllic elevated plateau in the countryside. Drug and alcohol abusers during this time were treated similarly to the clinically insane, as all of these afflictions were considered a medical disease during this time. To be cured from any of these required both medical and moral treatment, and so it was common to place drug and alcohol sufferers in the same institution, which was a prison, almshouse, or an asylum for the insane. This hospital sought to reform this practice of homogenization: it would specialize in treating only inebriates, through hard work and isolation, and to help alleviate the overburdened almshouses and asylums nearby.
Twenty one years after opening, the number of patients at the hospital dwindled from over three hundred to only thirty nine, and the governor declared the project a total failure. Since the institution's design paralleled so closely to treating mental illness, it was converted to a state asylum for the chronic insane, and re-opened within a few years after some remodeling.
The institution followed a path not unlike most state hospitals from then on; overcrowding led to expansions which included over 100 buildings, and treatments like electroconvulsive therapy and prefrontal lobotomies in the 1940s gave way to drug therapies in the mid-1950s. The eventual reduction in patient population emptied most of the buildings on campus throughout the 1990s, however it still functions as a mental health center. The original main building is awaiting restoration, while other older structures are abandoned or used as storage for the state's psychiatric and developmental agencies.
* Note: the name "Barlow State Hospital" is a pseudonym; the real name of this location is currently undisclosed.