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This Insane Asylum In Massachusetts Has A Dark And Evil History That Will Never Be Forgotten

The Danvers State Hospital was one of the most notorious institutions in Massachusetts history. It is known as the birthplace of one the most controversial and troubled procedures in medical history: the pre-frontal lobotomy. Yes, that’s the one where they jab your brain through your eye with an ice-pick.

Located in Danvers and first opened in 1878, the Danvers Lunatic Asylum (as it was also called) was an isolated and almost totally self-sufficient hospital. One of a new kind of “compassionate care” facilities that viewed mental instability as a treatable disease, Danvers was regarded as a humane and modern place. For a while.

In the late 1930s, the hospital was filled to capacity. Over 2,600 patients crowded the building that was only built to support 500. The staff was struggling to deal with the overflow of rowdy, sometimes violent patients. Some patients were left to wander the halls nude and covered in their own filth.

Enter Walter Freeman. By 1942, Freeman had “perfected” the lobotomy and performed over 200 of the operations. His technique was surprisingly simple and shockingly brutal: by thrusting a long rod into the corner of the patient’s eye and through to the brain, wiggling the rod around a bit, then simply withdrawing it, the brain’s connections to the pre-frontal lobe would be severed. The patient would be rendered passive, calm…and zombie-like.

Danvers welcomed this solution to their problems. Over the course of the 1940s and 50s, Danvers patients were subjected to shock therapy, psychosurgery and a massive wave of lobotomies that set the stage for the procedure to be spread to other hospitals in the nation.

The hospital closed in 1992. Since then, most of the original buildings have been demolished. The original facade of the main Kirkbride building, as well as the cemeteries, several blocked tunnels and the brick shell of the administration and the D and G wings remain.

In 2007, mysterious fires began to break in the apartment complexes that had been built on the Danvers site. People claim to have seen apparitions of former patients on the grounds of the old hospital, and the spot served as the setting for the 2001 horror film “Session 9.”

Did you ever visit this spot before it was demolished? Do you know anyone who worked at Danvers? Let us know!

Sophia
Massachusetts native. Freelance writer and strawberry eater. Get in touch: smitrokostas@onlyinyourstate.com.