Asylum : Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals

Architect, photographer and archeologists Christopher Payne spent many years touring abandoned asylums across the United States to uncover the dark histories that lied within their decrepitating walls and gates.

These facilities set up in rural areas, far away from the pressures of everyday life were mostly self-sufficient communities, with just about anything you can imagine, from a beauty salon to a bakery to a bowling alley – all run by the patients. These pictures are a brief glimpse of a profound and touching research which led to a highly acclaimed book called “Asylum : Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals”.

Because of the abandoned nature of most of these facilities, Payne had to dig far and deep to get a lot of the images capturing the artifacts of everyday life in the asylums. The images are hauntingly beautiful, exposing the generations of patients with mental illness before the pacification of prescriptive solutions.