The end of an old asylum…

Argyll and Bute hospital is at the end of its useful life. Soon it will be ‘reprovisioned’.

Hanging in the old reception area is a painting of the hospital from what I imagine is about 100 years ago. It shows a rear view of the hospital, at a time when it was a permanent home for hundreds of patients. If they could only tell their stories. I assume the painting was done by a patient at the hospital- it has a naive feel about it that is very affecting.

I took my camera today and took some shots between meetings. I wanted to record something of a visual monument to one of the last of a breed of failed social/medical experiments known as the ‘asylum’. By any measure, it was a desperately failed experiment. In the name of humanitarian treatment of the mentally ill, we removed people from society, and warehoused them in¬†institutions. Even when these were well run (and the stories of abuse that was handed out by some staff are appalling) then the end result was that people were lost. They stopped being brothers, sisters, children, bakers, lovers- and became- patients.

Here are some of the shots (click to enlarge.)

2 thoughts on “The end of an old asylum…

  1. Gosh this looks grim. It’s such a huge shame that mental illness is so badly recognised, even now. I heard a couple of programmes on Radio 4 some moths ago about ‘normal’ people being felled by mental illness. One was a very high achieving woman, a mother, studying in London and starting a business. She was, in the end, sectioned. Some of her story is quite comical. If you didn’t laugh you would cry. The frightening thing is the lack of control you have over, well, anything in this event. And you wonder, could it happen to me?

    • I think I heard the programme… it was very funny. Not sure about the lack of control though- many of us will experience mental ill health, but very few will require detention under the MHA.The sobering thought is that in the old asylums, you went in for much less, and it was very difficult to get away…


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