Once a shining refuge on a hill for 10,000 patients (including, in the 1950s, folk singer Woody Guthrie), with legacy buildings and campus designed by the noted mental health reformer Thomas Kirkbride, Greystone Park Psychiatric Hospital in Morris Plains, NJ, fell into abysmal neglect under state control.
Finally, after public outcry, The State of New Jersey moved to remediate the situation. It has built a new complex on the extensive grounds, and it is now tearing down many of the older buildings to reclaim the rest of the grounds for a public park. Nevertheless, the experience of Greystone mirrors that of many psychiatric hospitals caught in the historical crossfire of the changing treatment philosophies of psychiatry and brutish bureaucratic indifference of government.
Two Youtube videos of Greystone, as it was and as it is now, show the stark contrast. How did Greystone come to such a fate? What does it say about societal attitudes about the mentally ill?
In other words, how did a wondrous act of social reform as glorious as this…
…turn into a wretched abandonment like this?…
[Note: To learn more about the sad physical decline of mental hospitals, PsychOdyssey recommends from the articles archives under its “Read…” section:
Osborn, Lawrence A. (2009). From Beauty to Despair–The Rise and Fall of the American State Mental Hospital. Psychiatric Quarterly, 80. 219-231.]