Asylum on the Hill: History of a Healing Landscape
At Athens, May 3, 2012 at 6:30PM
Local guest author, Dr. Katherine Ziff, will talk about her book on one of the great neglected (and misunderstood) chapters in the history of Athens, Ohio: The Athens Lunatic Asylum. Her already critically acclaimed book is newly published by The Ohio University Press.
from the Foreword by Samuel T. Gladding
Asylum on the Hill is the story of a great American experiment in psychiatry, a revolution in care for those with mental illness, as seen through the example of the Athens Lunatic Asylum. Built in Southeast Ohio after the Civil War, the asylum embodied the nineteenth century “gold standard” specifications of moral treatment. Stories of patients and their families, politicians, caregivers, and community illustrate how a village in the coalfields of the Hocking River Valley responded to a national impulse to provide compassionate care based on a curative landscape, exposure to the arts, outdoor exercise, useful occupation, and personal attention from a physician. Although ultimately doomed by overcrowding and overshadowed by the rise of new models of psychiatry, for twenty years the therapeutic community at Athens pursued moral treatment therapy with energy and optimism.
Ziff’s fresh presentation of America’s nineteenth-century asylum movement shows how the Athens Lunatic Asylum accommodated political, economic, community, family, and individual needs. This compelling story, complete with numerous archival photographs, covers its history through the twentieth century and shows how the asylum’s remarkable architecture and grounds have been repurposed for the present day.