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Anybody there: Asylum photos by Dan Raven.

Photos: Dan Raven.

Not so long ago, there were special buildings where they took you if you lost your mind. Asylums, as they were known, were usually hidden from society - remote and secluded. They served to hide a problem on society’s behalf as much as to deal with it.

The idea was to protect both patients and society from the effects of mental illness by looking after the sufferers in a secure institution, with specialist medical help. But often, asylums did more damage than good. In the UK and other countries, asylums were generally closed a couple of decades ago, in favour of care, or sometimes lack of it, in the community.

The photographer, Dan Raven, recently came across an abandoned asylum that inspired him to search for others. His photos give us a faded glimpse of life inside such institutions.

Looking at the photographs, we see how this archetype was conceived. Something along the lines of a grand stately home, or perhaps a sanatorium of the kind that featured in Thomas Mann's book Magic Mountain. The images are both terrifying for what they hint at but do not show, and they are tragic in their portrayal of life and humanity that once lived within those walls.

The photographer has carefully concealed the locations and names of the abandoned buildings to prevent further damage and theft.

Christopher C. Hill.


Gratitude to Indulgd.

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