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.
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?