American Experience: Timeline of Mental Illness Treatments
Trace mental illness treatments from ancient times to today.

American Experience: Online Forum on Mental Illness
Q&A with a panel of experts about mental illness, schizophrenia, and John Nash.

American Experience: Nellie's Madhouse Memoir
Experience Blackwell's Island, the notorious New York lunatic asylum, in journalist Nellie Bly's haunting 1887 account of her stay there.

Guide to the Walter Freeman and James Watts Papers, 1918-1988
Find biographical notes and a description of the physical collection of the Freeman-Watts papers at George Washington University.

Sound Portraits: My Lobotomy
Listen to a radio documentary of Howard Dully's search to learn more about the lobotomy Walter Freeman performed on him when he was 12 years old.

Remembering the Tragedy of Lobotomy
Read personal stories by family members of people who were lobotomized.

Abandoned Asylums
Explore photographs and postcards of state mental hospitals that have shut their doors.

Overview of Mental Health in New York and the Nation
This site from the New York State Archives presents a timeline of trends in mental health treatment in the U.S. from colonial times to 1992.

Christopher Payne Photography
Photographer Chris Payne has photographed former state hospital wards, exteriors, and artifacts. Choose Gallery then Asylums on this site to see some of his work.


Deutsch, Albert. The Shame of the States. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1948.

Dully, Howard. My Lobotomy. New York: Crown, 2007.

El-Hai, Jack. The Lobotomist: A Maverick Medical Genius and His Tragic Quest to Rid the World of Mental Illness. Hoboken: John Wiley & Sons, 2005.

Freeman, Walter. Autobiography. Unpublished.

Freeman, Walter, and James Watts. Psychosurgery in the Treatment of Mental Disorders and Intractable Pain. Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1950.

Pressman, Jack D. Last Resort: Psychosurgery and the Limits of Medicine. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge, 1998.

Scull, Andrew. Madhouse: A Tragic Tale of Megalomania and Modern Medicine. New Haven: Yale University, 2005.

Shorter, Edward. A History of Psychiatry: From the Era of the Asylum to the Age of Prozac. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1997.

Shutts, David. Lobotomy: Resort to the Knife. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1982.

Valenstein, Elliot S. Great and Desperate Cures: The Rise and Decline of Psychosurgery and Other Radical Treatments for Mental Illness. New York: Basic Books, 1986.

Whitaker, Robert. Mad in America: Bad Science, Bad Medicine, and the Enduring Mistreatment of the Mentally Ill. Cambridge, MA: Perseus, 2002.


My American Experience

My American Experience photos

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