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November 29 , 2009

The Afterlives of the Psychiatric Asylum

Recycling Concepts, Sites and Memories


The last 40 years has seen a significant shift from state commitment to asylum-based mental health care to a mixed economy of care in a variety of locations. In the wake of this deinstitutionalisation, attention to date has focussed on users and providers of care. The consequences for the idea and fabric of the psychiatric asylum have remained 'stones unturned'. This book address an enduring yet under-examined question: what has become of the asylum?

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Focussing on the 'recycling' of both the idea of the psychiatric asylum and its sites, buildings and landscapes, this book makes theoretical connections to current trends in mental health care and to ideas in cultural/urban geography. The process of closing asylums and how asylums have survived in specific contexts and markets is assessed and consideration given to the enduring attraction of asylum and its repackaging as well as to retained mental health uses on former asylum sites, new uses on former sites, and interpretations of the derelict psychiatric asylum. The key questions examined are the challenges posed in seeking new uses for former asylums, the extent to which re-use can transcend stigma yet sustain memory and how location is critical in shaping the future of asylum and asylum sites.

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