Danvers, MA

The Infamous Hospital Where the First Prefrontal Lobotomy Took Place

Yana Bostongirl

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Abandoned hospitalPixabay from pexels

The Danvers State Hospital, formerly known as the State Lunatic Asylum at Danvers first opened its doors in 1878 during a time when the general public mindset was that the mentally ill could only be properly treated in such institutions. With 40 buildings and a maximum patient capacity of 450, the goal of the Danvers State Hospital was to cure its patients of their psychological issues.

Work on the Gothic-styled hospital started in 1874 on Hathorne Hill in Danvers, which is where the judge of the Salem Witch Trials John Hathorne once called home. Danvers was formerly known as Salem Village.

According to the History of Massachusetts Blog, the commonwealth of Massachusetts decided on building this psychiatric hospital in order to accommodate the burgeoning mentally ill population.

By the 1930s the hospital was plagued by numerous problems like overcrowding and lack of funding. In an article published by allthatsinteresting.com the use of straitjackets and shock treatments was commonplace at the Danvers State Hospital. It was wrongly assumed that the electric shock treatments would alter the patient's brain thereby making them better or would scare those who were misbehaving into submission. When that didn't work, the lobotomies started as a means of curing insanity. Danvers soon came to be known by the title "birthplace of prefrontal lobotomy" which was given to it by neurology experts.

It permanently closed its doors in 1992.

The empty Danvers State Hospital has since become an urban legend with people claiming it is haunted by the spirits of patients from long ago.

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