In 1938 Alfred Eisenstaedt, a well renown photographer at the time, snapped a series of pictures in the Psychiatric Hospital on New York on behalf of the LIFE Magazine. The touch that Alfred has through all his work enlightens the patients condition with an extreme compassion. What turns the shooting extremely eerie are not the scenes themselves but rather the illusory calmness and familiarity dominating the photos.

During the last decades, mental illness had obtained such a significant attention. If before the way to go was repressive and destructive (the routine of lobotomy being an example), in the NY Psychological Hospital as well as in the rest of the world, the new tactic when it came to treating mental illness was violent and harsh.

Victims and witnesses of the facts were the patients who suffered because of the several treatments reserved to them, such as straitjackets, iced baths and way more terrible things such as elettroshock or lobotomy itself.

So much has changed when we think about nowadays life conditions of mental ill people. However these pictures following, like the ones from the Bedlam Hospital of London, remind us of the awful captive and torture state that the sectioned patients from the past had to be subjected to.

Psychiatric Hospital of NY #5

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Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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