The rest? All haunted.
What They Actually Did:
There's no question that back in the old days, there was some brutal treatment of the mentally ill in these facilities. But you also have to stop and ask: If there were no such thing as asylums, what's the alternative? What happens to the people too mentally ill to care for themselves?
They make tens of millions of dollars?
We know the answer, because about 80 percent of all the asylums in the country were closed down between 1955 and 1985, which left about 400,000 patients without care. The answer is sleeping on the park bench of every city you go to: We now call these people "the homeless." This is why about 40 percent of the homeless are people with mental illnesses.
The backlash against asylums started in the 1960s, when the government A) realized it was expensive to run group homes, and B) the world found out about a hellhole called Willowbrook. Staten Island's Willowbrook was an institution for mentally retarded children, and we're not going to lie to you, it was bad. Way bad. Robert Kennedy called the place a "snake pit," and it would have actually been better had it been filled with snakes.
"Dr. Jonesss, when would you say you started to fear commitment?"
Geraldo Rivera did an expose that showed patients rocking themselves on the floor, naked and surrounded by their own poop and pee. Naturally, the whole country freaked out that our most vulnerable children were being treated this way, especially after we found out that doctors intentionally gave the kids hepatitis to study its effects. So, yeah, Willowbrook was really bad.
Not quite Geraldo Rivera bad, but still pretty awful.
So, the good news was that a really evil place was shut down. The bad news was that people kind of got the impression that all asylums were as bad as Willowbrook, and they had no problem shutting down other group homes as well. The other bad news was that it turned out most families weren't all that interested in a lifetime of caring for their mentally ill, and those former patients usually ended up on the streets, which led to the huge spike in homelessness that Comic Relief has been talking about for decades.