These Photos From The Dark Past Of How Mental Illness Was Once Treated Will Haunt You

Even though we still have a long way to go when it comes to treating and caring for those with mental illness, a look at some of the photos of how those with psychological disorders were treated as recently as 50 years ago shows that we have indeed made progress.

Looking at the photos below will show you how we once treated those among us who we did not understand or know how to deal with: the depressed, the anxious, the manic, the mentally ill. These images may haunt you after you see them. But I think it’s necessary to understand history and learn from it so we do not repeat it.


The Pilgrim Psychiatric Center in Long Island, New York, once housed as many as 14,000 patients.


Instruments used to perform lobotomies, which it was believed “calmed” those with severe mental disorders


Norwich State Hospital in Connecticut. This room looks like something that would be found in a Third World prison.


A child placed in a primitive restraint used to control “the insane.”


A 17th Century “insanity mask.”
A patient in a “restraint chair” In England.


It’s hard to imagine that we once treated people in this way simply because they suffered from mental disorders.

We must remember that compassion for those who are different, those whom we may not understand, and those who are suffering, is the highest form of caring and concern we can ever hope to show.

h/t and all Photos: Slightly Warped