Why I broke in to a mental hospital


Earlier today I broke in to a mental hospital. I’m not particularly proud of the fact that I made my self a criminal by climbing over the fence at the crack of dawn, making sure I wasn’t watched, before entering the huge house. Never the less, I did it. I trespassed and broke in.

Why on earth would you break in to a mental institution, you are probably thinking, aren’t people trying to get out of those places? Well, the truth is that the building is abandoned and everyone who once was here are long gone. I was actually on a photo excursion to Lier Mental Hospital outside Oslo, with my brother. This would be creepy but fun, I thought.

Upon entering a place you vaguely know the cruel history of I guess it’s only normal that certain thoughts hit you. You think about the people that had to work in a place like this, the ones that was trained and maybe forced to perform experiments on people, but most of all your thoughts reach out to the poor souls that was hospitalised in this and similar institutions. You see, this is a place where kids with Downs syndrome was considered a punishment from God and locked away for life, where mentally challenged individuals was left behind by their families, and where electroshock was a part of therapy.Lier

It is known that between 1945 and 1974, ​​experiments with LSD, lobotomy without anesthesia, testing of new drugs and research with radioactive isotopes on patients was done here. Lier Mental Hospital was one of the most active hospitals in Norway when it came to the testing of new drugs on humans in cases where industry could not even try them. All done under cover of assisting the pharmaceutical industry. Author Ingvar Ambjørnsen debut novel was a semi-autobiography called “The 23rd Row” based upon his experiences after having worked at Lier Hospital and he has later stated that this period of his life has influenced his writing greatly. I can understand why. This is not the place you want to be, not even after it has been abandoned and the treatments have stopped.

Was the trip worth it? Hard to say. Will I go back to the place for another photo shoot? Never.

I didn’t experience any of the hauntings that some people claim takes place here, and frankly the place isn’t so creepy that this is the reason I’ll keep away. Much more disturbing are the real life stories about what humans are capable of doing to each other, and breaking in to an abandoned mental hospital reminded me of this fact in a way that I’m not sure I was ready for.

The eternal question is always: Will man do even the most cruel things given the right reason?

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2 Comment
  1. Laurent 8 years ago

    Marina Abramović has test the limits of the relationship between performer and audience. Abramović developed one of her most challenging (and best-known) performances. She assigned a passive role to herself, with the public being the force which would act on her.

    Abramović had placed upon a table 72 objects that people were allowed to use (a sign informed them) in any way that they chose. Some of these were objects that could give pleasure, while others could be wielded to inflict pain, or to harm her. Among them were a rose, a feather, honey, a whip, scissors, a scalpel, a gun and a single bullet. For six hours the artist allowed the audience members to manipulate her body and actions.

    Initially, members of the audience reacted with caution and modesty, but as time passed (and the artist remained impassive) people began to act more aggressively. As Abramović described it later:

    “What I learned was that… if you leave it up to the audience, they can kill you.” … “I felt really violated: they cut up my clothes, stuck rose thorns in my stomach, one person aimed the gun at my head, and another took it away. It created an aggressive atmosphere. After exactly 6 hours, as planned, I stood up and started walking toward the audience. Everyone ran away, to escape an actual confrontation


  2. H.S. Palladino 8 years ago

    Yes, Marina Abramović has done some amazing performances, and the one you are mentioning is certainly one of the most disturbing as well as interesting ones, but where does that leave us though? With no hope?

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