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13 eerie photos that take you inside America's abandoned mental hospitals

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Asylum

Massive mental hospitals, some of which once housed hundreds of thousands of patients, were the primary mode of treatment for those with mental illnesses for centuries.

But by the 1960s, asylums all over the US were closing down in reaction to reports of abuse and neglect, as well as the passage of new healthcare laws that emphasized a community-based treatment approach.

As a result, many formerly packed mental hospitals have been left standing totally vacant. Over the course of six years, photographer Christopher Payne traveled to 70 of these abandoned mental hospitals all over the US, getting exclusive tours inside each. The resulting photos are chilling, yet beautiful in their own way.

Business Insider talked with Payne about his photographic journey, now collected into a book titled "Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals." Below, see his eerie photos of abandoned mental hospitals all over the US.

Courtney Verrill wrote an earlier version of this story.

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Most of the hospitals Payne photographed housed thousands of people who suffered from severe mental disorders such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. While a majority of the hospitals have been completely abandoned, some have remained partially open, such as Kankakee State Hospital, pictured below.



Payne got access to the hospitals by submitting formal requests to state mental-health departments. "Once a few states granted access, all the others followed suit," Payne told Business Insider. Oregon State Hospital, pictured here, was used as the set of the well-known film "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."



Many of the hospitals were eager to share their history. Payne got exclusive tours from people who used to work there. "Many of the [former] employees had worked at the institutions for decades, as had their parents and grandparents before them, and they were proud of their work," Payne said.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

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