"As soon as the patient passes the internment wall, he enters a new dimension of emotional emptiness ([...])" — Franco Basaglia (Italian psychiatrist, 1924-1980).

It seems strange to me to write that, but mental illness has been with me all my life. I grew up in Haar, a Munich suburb. A tranquil and beautiful place yet one that accommodates one of the largest psychiatric institutions in Germany. A beautiful area with old Art Nouveau buildings but also with a cruel dark past, because in World War II euthanasia was practiced here.

Having this in mind, my curiosity for the background of psychiatric institutions was awakened. When I visited one of these former institutions in Italy for the first time in 2013 and learned more about the sometimes cruel conditions, I realized that I wanted to photograph these places.

More info: andyschwetz.de | flickr.com | Instagram

#1

Dr. Rosetti

Dr. Rosetti

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Zaerhin Sk 3 weeks ago

this is creepy! Like the patients room looks so nice, but at the same time scary

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#2

Hells Eden

Hells Eden

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Brenda Swann 3 weeks ago

Mother Nature has a way of hiding sins from the past. Careful if the serenity you see

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There are many stains on the white straitjacket in the history of psychiatry. Italy and its Manicomio was, unfortunately, a prime example here in the last century.

The law of 1904 allowed the police forces to obtain an urgent request for a briefing. So there were not only the mentally ill but also "unwanted" people such as the homeless, petty criminals, etc. who were instructed and denounced without a diagnosis. The church also had the power to determine who was mentally ill. The physicians and the respective other parties were in this under the same blanket, so the doctors often confirmed a disease even though there was no illness.

#3

One More Light

One More Light

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MJ 3 weeks ago

If you read the comment above from OP, it's no wonder Vicenzo hasn't improved after 13 years there. Everyone would go insane with that 'therapy", even if you were sane going in...

#4

Oversized

Oversized

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TheDivineMs.M 3 weeks ago

What is that?

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Later, at a time when fascism prevailed in Italy, political opponents, disabled persons, and other groups of people who did not fit into the regime's model of society were barred to prison on the pretext of "social danger." So it went from 1926 to 1941, and the number grew from 62,000 to almost 100,000 inmates. Often, people were incapacitated and simply locked up until their death.

The living conditions in the asylums were mostly unworthy of human beings and the treatment methods were questionable and cruel: insulin treatments, restraint systems, and especially the later introduced electroshock therapy had devastating effects. The worst-off inmates experienced nothing but the lack of care and the robbery of human identity.

#5

Bad Treatment

Bad Treatment

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Brenda Swann 3 weeks ago

I. Can’t help but wonder what photos will be shown of the year 2020 as images or examples of how bad things were ‘then’. Makes one think in broader terms.

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#6

A New Dawn

A New Dawn

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Jane W. 3 weeks ago

I would have spent all the time I was there at that window.

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Here is an excerpt from the medical file of Vicenzo M. who was admitted at the age of 17 and who was "held" for the following 27 years in the same ward:

"10.5.47: Electric shock

10.7.47: Feverishly occupied tongue

10.11.47: Nothing new

12.4.48: Always apathetic, stupid, deprived of all initiative. He expresses no wishes; smiles blandly, eats voluntarily, does not seem to hallucinate.

10.11.61: (After 13 years) severe mental confusion, apathetic, inactive, indifferent.

Quiet in 1964, not aggressive, idle

Unchanged in 1967

1970: Unresponsive, dirty, apathetic indifferent. " [Source]

The boy was only in the asylum for being a case of a "madman". Previously, he was a normal schoolboy.

#7

Thoughts Prison

Thoughts Prison

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AQUINNAH POLOZOLA 2 weeks ago

c-r-e-e-p-y

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#8

The Last Walk

The Last Walk

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Jane W. 3 weeks ago

How well all of this beauty masks the hell inside.

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The end of this dark period came only 74 years later. when Legge 180, or otherwise known as the Basaglia Law, was issued on May 13, 1978. The Manicomi in their old form were closed. Franco Basaglia took over the management of the Psychiatric Clinic of Gorizia in 1961, having resigned as a psychiatry professor at the University of Padua since the theories taught there were wrong and had nothing to do with the condition of the persons in psychiatric hospitals. He was the first in the world to claim that one had to close and regulate psychiatric institutions because captivity, fixation, electroshock, and psychotropic drugs had no therapeutic value.

#9

Like Kings (...)

Like Kings (...)

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#10

Going Nowhere

Going Nowhere

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Jane W. 3 weeks ago

Lovely entry, at least.

Today, many of these old, partly architecturally exciting buildings have been empty for many decades. They are memorials of ignorance and intolerance and they are monuments to thousands of terrible fates of innocent, sick and simply unfortunate people. Accordingly, I also felt an intense melancholy and oppressive mood when I visited these places. High, monastery-like corridors, high-security tracts, and dormitories that were often designed for 100 people or more.

Also, some of the legacies left there gave me goosebumps. Bathtubs that had electricity, old surgical chairs, children's chairs with ankle cuffs, straitjackets and old morgue tables.

#11

The Holes

The Holes

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sloth cat 3 weeks ago

it makes you think doesn't it how far we've come and yet All we hear is how terrible we all are and her in less than 100 years we've come so extremely particularly in psychology mental health was seen to be insanity but we still have very far to go.weve come so far a species so far we realising that we did wrong so we're trying to fix our mistake everybody keeps going in about how bad we are all yes we are but please do not forget that human beings are a amazing generous intelligent species . sorry about this being so long. and for any inconvenience caused thank you

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#12

Silent Screams

Silent Screams

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Amery 3 weeks ago

Sad...

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Today, the old Manicomios disappear increasingly. Some were partially renovated or demolished because of the extreme danger of collapse. The vandalism has also increased in many of these places, helping it to become history.

Although our society has still not quite accepted that mental illness is a normal disease, it is shocking to see the dominant preconceptions until the mid-1970s. In any case, in comparison with conventional medicine, it was a scientific and moral Stone Age.

#13

Next To You

Next To You

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Amery 3 weeks ago

Creepy for sure....

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#14

Straitjacket

Straitjacket

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Lina Selami 3 weeks ago

why, though, just why?

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Over the years, many photographs have been accumulated and I possibly have the opportunity to publish a book about it because the topic offers interesting content and so many facets. But for now, you can visit my website where I published also the first report about one of the asylums.

#15

Vulnerable

Vulnerable

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Amery 3 weeks ago

Old time version of the Teeter?

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#16

Final Destination

Final Destination

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Amery 3 weeks ago

Deathbed?!?

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Over the years, many photographs have been accumulated and I possibly have the opportunity to publish a book about it because the topic offers interesting content and so many facets.

But for now, you can visit my website where I published also the first report about one of the asylums.

#17

Solitude

Solitude

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Daniel Wang 3 weeks ago

it means the state or situation of being alone.

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#18

Deceptive

Deceptive

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Amery 3 weeks ago

The electric tub?!?

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#19

Help Less

Help Less

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Nadia Bakker 3 weeks ago

The green is such a contrast to the rest of the scenery, in a good way. It's nice to see that at some point, in the far future, nature will reclaim this sad place and turn it into a garden.

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#20

The Way Into The Uncertain

The Way Into The Uncertain

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#21

Idyll....maybe

Idyll....maybe

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CookieNeerrrrd 2 weeks ago

Nature beats all!

#22

Clockwork Orange

Clockwork Orange

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Coreen Kerr 3 weeks ago

Just looking at these old, old creepy pictures is punishment.

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#23

Fixation (Kids Edition)

Fixation (Kids Edition)

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Amery 3 weeks ago

So sad....sheesh.

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#24

Silence Is Golden

Silence Is Golden

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Lina Selami 3 weeks ago

creepy.... in a way

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#25

Invastigation

Invastigation

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Catlady6000 3 weeks ago

If it's a long term facility, gynecological exams would still be a necessity for some. For some, leaving to go to a dr.s office might be unnecessarily traumatic, if it could be taken care of on premises, better for the patient

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#26

Claustrophobia

Claustrophobia

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Lina Selami 3 weeks ago

yep, claustrophobia

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#27

One Way

One Way

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Jerry Olpenda 2 weeks ago

love the blooming vegetation

#28

The End Of The End

The End Of The End

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Catlady6000 3 weeks ago

Those are modern doors

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#29

Full Service

Full Service

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Jakki Wetherall 2 weeks ago

Looks too big to be a dunce's cap. To me it looks more like the old style of fire extinguisher which were cone-shaped. You can just see the handle on the other side of it.

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#30

Lonely End

Lonely End

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Amery 3 weeks ago

Death slabs?

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#31

Nof4

Nof4

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Naomi Wayker 3 weeks ago

This is so creepy like omg when was this abandoned?

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#32

The Takeover

The Takeover

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Lina Selami 3 weeks ago

next movie: plants take over the world once again

#33

Ad Infinitum

Ad Infinitum

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Douglas Kues 3 weeks ago

As a 73 year old white American male, and having lived through the end of one World War and several intermediate military events, one during which I served with initial pride and ultimate embarrassment, and watching the charade in which we now reside, I can only say that these photographs and the accompanying comments leave me approaching insanity just at the thought of how we have adversely evolved in the past single generation. Sure, we reached the end of not knowing how to treat the less fortunate and less educated, but now we subject them to ideology that is ultimately more profound than the forces that led those before us into these walls of horror. Much the same as trying to raise our children by reading a brilliant author publication from the last generation is ludicrous, I would submit that, like much of our history that repeats itself, the halls of the perceived insane will again be full at some point. Shit. One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. The answer, my friend, ........

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#34

Bloody Walls , Dark Hearts

Bloody Walls , Dark Hearts

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PyroKitty 3 weeks ago

If that's blood, that's a lot of blood (idk, maybe discoloration of some kind? People who know this stuff, help)

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#35

Creepers

Creepers

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Dana Zuber 3 weeks ago

Aw man

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#36

Junglecamp

Junglecamp

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Susan Parker 2 weeks ago

What, exactly, is this area? Is it indoors or outside? Can't tell a think from this. Except derelict. This is creepy and fascinating all at the same time, this series of photos.

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The madhouse is a giant Soundbox,

and the delirium: echo,

the namelessness: measure

The madhouse is the enchanted one

Mount Zion on which you

the tablets of a law receive

that people do not know.

(Alda Merini, poet, over 20 years inmate at the Manicomio)