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16 Insane Asylums That Will Give You Nightmares

Check in at your own risk...


The insane asylums of yesteryear were often used to contain and isolate society’s “undesirables” from the rest of the population. Such institutions were far from restful. Patients were subjected to cruel treatments in inhumane conditions, and many died within the hospital walls.

Thankfully, today’s mental health care facilities have come a long way from those dark days. The crumbling asylums of old—many of which now lie in abandonment—stand as stark reminders of just how cruel we can be to our fellow man. It’s not surprising that some of these sites are considered to be haunted. Here are 16 of the most terrifying insane asylums we’ve written about here at The Lineup.


1. Inside Surrey County Asylum

physiognomic portraits

Photo: Flickr Commons; National Media Museum

Victorian psychiatrist Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond believed he could identify the mental disorders of his patients by taking their picture. The results are haunting and heart-rending. READ MORE.


2. Bedlam: The Horrors of London’s Most Notorious Insane Asylum

insane asylum bethlem

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The sinister history of the world’s oldest psychiatric hospital is so dark that its very name is synonymous with mayhem. Step inside London’s Bethlem Royal Hospital—nicknamed Bedlam—an insane asylum haunted by the traumas of the past. READ MORE.


3. 5 Insane Asylums and the Horrors that Happened There

topeka state hospital

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

From the birthplace of the lobotomy to a school for disabled children with “zoo-like” conditions, go behind the locked doors of history’s worst institutions. READ MORE.


4. Investigating the Morgue at Waverly Hills Sanatorium

waverly hills sanatorium

Photo: Autumn / Flickr (CC)

Between the temperature drop, moving chair sound, camera malfunction, autopsy table vibrations, and remarkable responses from the spirit box, Theresa Argie’s spirit encounters at Waverly Hills were uncomfortably personal. READ MORE.


5. 6 Haunted Asylums You Can Actually Visit

haunted asylums

Photo: Bob Jagendorf / Flickr (CC)

Those who visit these haunted asylums report disembodied voices, meandering apparitions, and eerie noises echoing through the crumbling corridors. Care to step inside? READ MORE.


6. The Restless Spirits of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

trans allegheny lunatic asylum

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

At the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, a group of restless spirits seem to enjoy giving ghost hunters a run for their money. READ MORE.


7. The Forsaken Halls of England’s Severalls Hospital

severalls hospital

Photo: Rob Walker / Flickr (CC)

On the outskirts of town lies a haunting remnant of Colchester’s past… READ MORE.


8. The Dark History of the Trenton Psychiatric Hospital

Photo: David Scaglione / Flickr (CC)

Photo: David Scaglione / Flickr (CC)

Wander through the rooms of New Jersey’s first public mental institution—where one mad doctor’s brutal methods turned the facility into a hospital of horrors. READ MORE.


9. America’s Most Haunted Hospitals and Asylums

haunted hospitals

Photo: Thomas / Flickr (CC)

Step inside America’s most haunted hospitals and asylums, where patients checked in but never checked out. READ MORE.


10. Poveglia: Italy’s Island of the Damned

poveglia island

Photo courtesy of Tommaso Gastaldi

The shores of this eerie isle are steeped in centuries’ worth of death, disease, and madness. Set sail for Poveglia, Italy’s most haunted island, where the wails of restless souls still echo in the night. READ MORE.


11. Corridor of Horrors: The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

trans-allegheny lunatic asylum

Photos: Eva Hambach / Getty Images

The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum may have been built to help make people well, but it soon became a living hell for its patients. Journey down its corridors in this collection of haunting photos. READ MORE.


12. The Ghosts of Waverly Hills Sanatorium

waverly hills sanatorium

Photo: THEMACGIRL* / Flickr (CC)

Nestled in the hills of northern Kentucky is the Waverly Hills Sanatorium, a crumbling hospital from the turn of the century with a truly haunted past. READ MORE.


13. The Spooky Ruins of Georgia’s Central State Hospital

central state hospital

Photo: David Scaglione / Flickr (CC)

On the outskirts of Milledgeville are the crumbling remains of Central State Hospital. Once one of the largest insane asylums in the country, it now lies in ruin. READ MORE.


14. Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum and the Haunting Enigma of Lily

Photo: Donnie Nunley / Flickr (CC)

Photo: Donnie Nunley / Flickr (CC)

Inside the walls of the now shuttered Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum in West Virginia is an abundance of paranormal activity. One of the more infamous spirits who haunts the hospital is a little girl named Lily, who supposedly wanders the halls, looking for a playmate. READ MORE.


15. A Living Nightmare: The History of Pennhurst Asylum

pennhurst asylum

Photo: Thomas / Flickr (CC)

Pennhurst Asylum was built to house society’s “undesirables,” from disabled people to orphans and criminals. It closed in 1987, after its horrid conditions came to light. Today, the souls of those who once lived at the facility still haunt its halls. READ MORE.


16. Eastern State Hospital: America’s First Insane Asylum

eastern state hospital

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Eastern State Hospital, the nation’s oldest public mental health institution, opened in Williamsburg, Virginia, in 1773. Many believe it to be haunted to this day. READ MORE.