Mental Asylum So Crazy They Had To Shut It Down FOREVER

Mental Asylum So Crazy They Had To Shut It Down FOREVER

“The Shame of Pennsylvania” and “A Vast
Junkyard of Wasted Humans” – this is how one newspaper article described Pennhurst
Insane Asylum located in Spring City, Pennsylvania. Originally named the Eastern State Institution
for the Feeble-Minded and Epileptic, the initial purpose of this state-funded hospital and
school was to care for people with epilepsy as well as those with physical and developmental
disabilities. Opened in November 1908, it was built in an isolated setting and included
buildings connected by tunnels. This self-contained community even had “its own power plant,
farm, hospital, morgue, barber shop, and firehouse” according to The Vintage News. More buildings
were eventually added, and the institution was later renamed Pennhurst State School and
Hospital. Some of Pennhurst’s high-functioning residents received vocational training and
were able to participate in activities such as the Pennhurst orchestra, band, and baseball
team. Early group photos of these residents give the impression that this place “was
once seen as a model institution” as the Pennhurst Memorial & Preservation Alliance
(PM&PA) describes it. However, as time passed, conditions inside Pennhurst deteriorated,
and it truly became a living nightmare for its residents. To start with, overcrowding was always a perpetual
problem at Pennhurst. PM&PA notes that “only four years after Pennhurst opened, beds were
lined up with no space to even walk between them.” In the early 20th century, American
eugenicists became interested in Pennhurst as a place to house undesirable people who
would taint America’s gene pool. In 1913, the Commission for the Care of the Feeble-Minded
cruelly concluded that the disabled were “unfit for citizenship” and “posed a menace to
the peace,” so officials thought why not send even more “unfit” people to Pennhurst?
Soon criminals, immigrants, and orphans joined the ranks of Pennhurst residents. The idea
was to keep all of these social outcasts away from the general population and prevent them
from reproducing. But even as interest in eugenics waned, the
overcrowding at Pennhurst continued. Despite adding more beds and buildings over the years,
it struggled to keep up with the growing resident population. A 1940s information booklet states
that the patient population at Pennhurst was “approximately 2400 with a waiting list
of nearly 1500 due to the fact that the institution was filled to capacity.” A New York Times
article reports that “in the early 1960’s it had a peak population of 4,100.” Even
though the in-house population dropped by the mid-1960s, one source notes that Pennhurst
“housed 2,791 people, most of them children, which was about 900 more than the administration
thought the buildings could comfortably accommodate.” Overcrowding combined with understaffing led
to neglect and some appalling living conditions at Pennhurst. One person who could attest
to this was Roland Johnson, a former patient who lived in the institution from 1958 to
1971. In his autobiography called Lost in a Desert World, he describes the miserable
environment inside Pennhurst: To tell you the truth, Pennhurst smelled like
a doghouse. It just smell like feces. Rats crawling, roaches crawling all over; this
was on the low grade wards. Holes in the wall, big holes in the floors. It was awful to see.
You would cry to see people living in that kind of filth. Horrible. Feces and pee on
the floor, flies coming in the windows. . . . In 1968, the most well-known exposé of the
inhumane conditions at Pennhurst aired on local television. It was a 5-part news series
called “Suffer The Little Children,” and suffering was what the children filmed at
Pennhurst appeared to be doing. The images are haunting. An NPR article describes “naked,
emaciated residents, swaying back and forth to their own internal rhythms, or curled up
in balls” and children “tied to their beds.” In a 2010 interview, the journalist
who created the series, Bill Baldini, still vividly remembers some of the horrible sights
he saw there 42 years ago: “Think of a ward of infants and children from the ages of six
months to 5 years old,” Baldini recalls. “There are 80 of them in … metal cages. They had
to attend to them every day, all day. These people were literally lying in their own feces
for days.” The public reacted strongly to “Suffer The Little Children.” According
to NPR, Baldini’s news series “outraged the community” and led to an “outpouring
of support for Pennhurst.” If neglect, filth, and restraints were not
bad enough, patients also endured physical abuse. Some of this abuse was documented in
the case of Halderman vs. Pennhurst State School and Hospital. Disability Justice describes
it as “a class action lawsuit filed in the U. S. District Court for the Eastern District
of Pennsylvania on behalf of former and current residents of Pennhurst against the institution,
its superintendents, and state officials responsible for Pennhurst’s operation.” One court
document, a case opinion by Judge Raymond J. Broderick, revealed that it was common
for residents to be injured by other residents and “through self-abuse.” Plaintiff Larry
Taylor, for instance, “was often injured while at Pennhurst; on one occasion, he was
hospitalized for two weeks because of head and face injuries he received as a result
of a beating by another resident.” Among the battered residents at Pennhurst was the
original plaintiff in this lawsuit, former resident Terri Lee Halderman. Broderick’s
case opinion also states that “during her eleven years at Pennhurst, as a result of
attacks and accidents, she has lost several teeth and suffered a fractured jaw, fractured
fingers, a fractured toe and numerous lacerations, cuts, scratches and bites.” In addition, some staff members abused residents.
According to The Travel Channel, “cruel punishments were common at the facility.”
Patients who engaged in extreme misbehavior could suffer extreme punishments, such as
this one described in The Vintage News: “The staff, for example, would often remove all
the teeth of a patient who bit another patient or a staff member. In fact, this happened
so often that even years after the asylum was closed, visitors would find teeth in the
tunnels.” And consider this disturbing account from
Anthony Leeds. In the 1940s, he observed the mistreatment of patients when he served as
part of a Civilian Public Service (CPS) program held at Pennhurst: I went for a miserable 20 months to a concentration
camp called Pennhurst State Training School for Mental Defectives . . . . The patients
most likely to get training and get better and go into a real world of work, somehow
were found to have “broken a rule” so they were sent to U-Cottage, a slave house
where they were beaten, had arms tied to steam pipes, and made to provide all the major labor
of the institution. The Director, an alcoholic, and the Comptroller were in cahoots, many
of the charge attendants in the cottages were drunks and even more of the assistant attendants
were “rum-bums”. . . Unfortunately for the residents of Pennhurst,
conditions did not improve much even after the class action lawsuit was filed on May
30, 1974. Broderick’s case opinion lists four incidents of staff abuse in 1976 that
resulted in the suspension and/or termination of the perpetrators: “In 1976, one resident
was raped by a staff person . . . ; one resident was badly bruised when a staff person hit
him with a set of keys . . . ; another resident was thrown several feet across a room by a
staff person . . . ; and one resident was hit by a staff person with a shackle belt
. . . .” In 1977, Halderman vs. Pennhurst State School
and Hospital went to trial. Despite a ruling in favor of the residents, the institution
stayed open, and residents continued to abuse each other. Broderick’s case opinion also
notes that “in January, 1977 alone, there were . . . 833 minor and 25 major injuries
reported.” In 1979, an outside observer named Lou Chapman
saw firsthand that some Pennhurst residents were still neglected. In her report, she wrote,
“There are enormous amounts of time when nothing is done. The ‘high point’ of the
day is when someone smears herself with feces; she then gets a one-on-one shower with talcum
powder added for good measure and returns to doing nothing . . . . ” In 1983, more staff abuse at Pennhurst made
headlines. A New York Times article reported that 9 current and former Pennhurst employees
were indicted for “charges of beating and abusing patients.” One employee “was accused
in 10 counts of beating nine patients,” while another was “accused of causing one
patient to beat and physically abuse another.” All of these employees were fired, but one
challenged her dismissal and got her job back. The superintendent of Pennhurst at the time,
George Kopchick, saw the firings as proof that “’we were on top of these things,’”
but it was “too little, too late” as the saying goes. By 1984, Pennhurst’s days were numbered.
According to PM&PA, a “final settlement agreement between the Halderman v. Pennhurst
parties provide[d] for the closure of Pennhurst.” After the District Court approved the agreement
in April 1985, Pennhurst shut down in 1987. Over the years since it closed, parts of Pennhurst
have been re-purposed and sold. Pennhurst is now the site of a veteran’s home and
a Pennsylvania National Guard armory. The opening of a haunted house attraction in 2010
stirred up controversy given Pennhurst’s tragic history. An NPR article notes that
it “upset people” because they thought it “trivializes the suffering of those who
lived there.” There is supposedly a paranormal presence
at Pennhurst too. The Vintage News states that Pennhurst “has a reputation of being
one of the most haunted places in the world.” In some of the abandoned buildings, ghost
hunters hear disembodied voices and see shadowy figures, the paranormal remains of patients
who were treated so horribly because they were deemed “defective” by society. For
these unfortunate patients, the suffering never ends. Would you visit Pennhurst? Why or why not?
Let us know in the comments! Also, be sure to check out our other video called You vs
Annabelle – How Would You Defeat Her?! Thanks for watching, and, as always, don’t forget
to like, share, and subscribe. See you next time!

100 comments / Add your comment below

  1. Ayy I live like 5 minutes away from Penn Hurst. Now it's a haunted house. People think it's haunted

  2. They should destroy the building and used the property for something else. They make a movie about the abuse and haunting in a Hollywood studio, not where the abuse took place.

  3. This is what is happening to the immigrants being kept in concentration camps under the Trump Administration

  4. Would I visit Pennhurst??? Yup!!! I'm from Louisville, KY, and I spent a LOT of time at Waverly Hills growing up, up until I moved from KY to Tennessee to be closer to my wife's family… I loved that place, so yes, Pennhurst would be on my list of "F'd up places to visit"

  5. You want to know the crazy part about this mental asylum. I live just 17 minutes away from this place. Seriously I really do live that close to that place. So I know all about the horrors that went on there. The Travel Channel show Ghosts Adventures even did an episode about that place. And I can tell you speaking as someone who lives this close to this place of horrors. It is one place you don't ever want to go there. I am usually in to paranormal related stuff. But Pennhurst is one haunted place I don't ever want to go to.

  6. Should those institutions remain open for visitors as reminders of what should never be reopened? Or should it be destroyed and put to oblivion?

  7. I really hope current mental health asylums are WAY better than this, but I fear it is not… Just about everything I have heard, seen or read about those places sounds terrible. And I wonder how many people avoid seeking help just out of fear they could end up in a place like this. I definenitly would if I needed help. I would rather have the black death than risk ending up in one of these asylums.

    Also they should not take in more patients if they dont have capasity, because at that point they will end up making things worse when they should be doing the opposite

  8. the title and thumbnail give me the impression that the video is going to be fake (like all the actually happened bs stories)

  9. That place is near my cousins old school, we used to pass that at least a few times a week, definitely haunted

  10. Money makes the world go around and money leads to effecient hellish conditions of life to maximize profits.

  11. i dunno wats goin on with yall videos but the music u add now totally overpowers your words. i can barely here you

  12. Fun fact, the only people who are against mental institutions being shut down are the people that work there. Snake pits.

  13. I live fairy close to Pennhurst but what is more terrible is nobody learned from what happens there.There was another hospital called Byberry(I think it’s real name was Philadelphia State hospital but nicknamed Byberry because of its location) Aside from the terrible abuse and neglect unlike Pennhurst(the residents thrived after leaving by being placed somewhere better according to a study that tracked them for 14 years after they closed) The last 2500 Byberry patients were literally given $25,bus tokens and an outpatient appointment. 2500 mentally ill people just let out on the streets with nowhere to go. Many committed crimes and ended up in prison, some were “living “on the property years after. I can’t see how something so bad can happen and it gets publicized and nobody thinks ,I guess we better stop hurting patients here.

  14. I'm not trying to sound insensitive but this is basically the real life version of Dead Man Wonderland

  15. Its kinda weird looking at those cute chibi kids while hearing about how horrible this was.. Is it just me? Just me.

  16. I’ve been there a few times now for the Halloween attractions, very creepy. Especially when you know what happened there when it was open!

  17. I use to bite people as a child till my dad bit me back so hard I bled, I Never bit anyone EVER again.

  18. Um PA isn't above New York. Also I live about 10 mins from here. They do a haunted house set up every Halloween. It's crazy.

  19. My mom worked with Special needs adults in the greater Philadelphia area and I've met some former patients. One that stood out to me was a man who had no teeth because the staff at pennhurst removed them when he was just a kid.

  20. The paranormal stuff is probably just teenagers sneaking in and messing with the ghost hunters.

  21. I've been to Pen State for a tour and its haunting. I haven't seen ghost or anything like that but I always felt like I was being watched. But if your intrested In the history of Penn state I highly recommend going. I have not gone to their Holland house attraction yet but my sister did as she said it is very intense and very horrifying and there's even a scene where they take you down the body shoot with a you that all the tour as well. It's worth checking out

  22. I worked with a girl who did ghost hunting at pennhurst. I think its so scary ppl have to sign a waiver before they go in.

  23. Arkham asylum I’m the best asylum
    U sure many people escaped and ate u
    Eastern state institution hold my beer
    Arkham asylum ok gets recked ok nvm ur the best

  24. Glad I wasn't alive when this was opened…

    I have a few undesirable disorders so, thank G O S H I'm alive now and not then

  25. Live right by here. Half my friends work there seasonally at the haunted house. You could not pay me enough to walk in the tunnels

  26. Anyone else with epilepsy get sad when the title said mental institution in the title but they said it was mostly used for epilepsy :(((((((((

  27. How?? How can you beat someone and hear the screams coming fron them. Seeing the fear on their face. How could people do that it breaks my hesrt. Sick sick sick people in the world. What a shame 😔

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