Looking Back at Wingdale’s Harlem Valley Psychiatric Hospital (1924-1994)
Do you know what procedure the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Hospital in Wingdale, NY became famous for?
From 1924 until 1994, the Harlem Valley Psychiatric Hospital was chartered for the "the care and treatment of the insane." With 80 buildings on 800 acres, in its prime, the hospital housed 5,000 patients and employed 5,000. It had its own golf course, bowling alley, baseball field, bakery, and its own massive dairy farm.
During my research, I set out to discover if this ginormous facility was in any way, haunted. Abandoned psychiatric facilities seem to always appear creepy, and they weird most of us out. Honestly, I tried digging for horrifying ghost stories inside the walls of Harlem Valley, but was only able to come up with creepy photos and videos.
In the 1930s, Harlem Valley joined other psychiatric hospitals who were experimenting with a new insulin shock therapy to treat individuals with schizophrenia, according to Business Insider. Then in 1942, neuropsychiatrist, Walter Freeman, introduced a new mental health treatment known as the lobotomy. Refer to the 1975 movie, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.
In 1945, Freeman introduced the new and improved lobotomy called the transorbital lobotomy or the ice-pick lobotomy where a thin ice-pick like surgical tool was inserted under the eyelid and then forced into the brain. Simply lovely!
As psychotropic drugs like Thorazine became available to patients with mental illness, the patient populations in psychiatric hospitals began to decline in drastic numbers like Harlem Valley. They shut their doors in 1994 and never looked back.
Read more local stories:
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- An Interactive Map of Connecticut's Most Haunted Places
- Why Are There So Many Dead Squirrels On Connecticut Roads?
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