What are the creepiest places in the world? Corn fields at night, cemeteries, and probably retirement homes. There’s also a certain type of place that might surpass all of those on the spookiness level: asylums. Asylums were mental hospitals that pre-dated scientific knowledge on the cause and treatment of diseases like depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia.
There has been a recent rise in fascination with asylums, particularly those that could be haunted. There is undoubtedly some perverse appeal to the archaic and inhumane methods taken by doctors in these places during the late 1800s and into the first half of the 20th century. While the original insane wards have been long closed, there are still some abandoned asylums around the globe that lay untouched collecting dust and stories of their dark past.
Located in Louisville, Kentucky, Waverly Hills is regarded as one of the most haunted former sanatoriums in the world, which would make sense since an estimated 63,000 people died within its walls. Bodies were removed from the building through what was referred to as a “death chute”, but apparently not all of them stayed away. Rumored ghosts include a small boy who plays with rubber balls and two nurses who committed suicide.
Trans Alleghany Lunatic Asylum
Even the name, Trans Alleghany Lunatic Asylum, gives us the heebie-jeebies. Not to mention the sheer size of the building in Weston, West Virginia — the building is said to be the largest hand-cut sandstone building in the world outside of the Kremlin. Despite being designed to house 250 patients, it once hosted as many as 2,500 patients at the same time. One of those many residents at Trans Alleghany was the mass murderer and cult leader Charles Manson. The building now runs ghost tours, recounting reports of ice pick lobotomies and humans in cages.
Gonjiam Psychiatric Hospital
The South Korean representative on our list, Gonjiam was officially closed due to poor sewage conditions. However, according to lore, it was abandoned after mysterious circumstances resulted in the deaths of many inmates, followed by doctors behaving in ways that made them seem like the patients. Rumor has it that the warden of the hospital, who later fled to the U.S after families started asking questions, orchestrated these eerie occurrences. He may still be out there… bum bum bummmmmm.
Read More: 5 of the Scariest Places on Earth
Beechworth Lunatic Asylum
Perhaps the creepiest part about this Australian psychiatric hospital is that it remained open all the way until 1995. During those long years of experimentation, thousands of people died and because of their harsh diagnoses, most people admitted to the asylum never made it out alive. Nowadays, it is common for visitors to report faces in the windows.
Danvers Lunatic Asylum
This Massachusetts asylum was used both as a psychiatric ward and a prison. It eventually became the inspiration for H.P. Lovecraft’s film, Arkham Sanitarium, which later was the basis for Batman’s Arkham Asylum, housing notorious Gotham criminals like The Joker. The medical team at Danvers were big fans of shock therapy and lobotomies but the asylum was so understaffed that bodies were often only discovered many days after their death.
Pennhurst is on this list because it was a sanatorium for children. Many stories from Pennhurst are hard to hear; extreme methods like removing the teeth of kids who would bite others were not uncommon. Thankfully the asylum stopped drugging and chaining up its patients in 1968 when it was forced to close, but it is now said to the home to paranormal happenings.
Buffalo State Lunatic Asylum
These days, the Buffalo State Asylum is constantly berated by reports of high-pitched and terrifying screams that travel from room to room. Back in the day, the New York-based asylum did not stick to the usual electro-shock therapy and lobotomies but took things a step further with experimentations like leaving patients in baths of water for days and cutting open their heads to find visual imperfections.
The Irish hospital in Cork housed women who engaged in prostitution or demonstrated patterns of sexual promiscuity from 1765 all the way to 1996. When a mass grave was found on the grounds, the Irish government did a formal investigation and discovered patients were subjected to violence at the hands of the nuns that ran the asylum. No word yet if a movie about murderous Irish nuns is in the works.