Mental Illness, The Mountain Women Series, West Virginia tourist attractions

The old lunatic asylum

—In several books of the Mountain Women Series I’ve mentioned the Weston State Hospital in West Virginia, (formerly the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum), now closed.

In its early years, reasons for committing people to that institution were often sad, capricious and downright criminal. The attached image, which I copied from a brochure, shows a list of some of those reasons. Take a look. They’re hard to believe!


Today the facility is a tourist attraction. See it at


6 thoughts on “The old lunatic asylum”

  1. My grandmother was committed to the Ypsilanti mental hospital in 1955 because of her erratic behavior. Most likely, she suffered from Alzheimer’s. She died there.

      1. Of that I’m not certain, but I’m sure they gave her those awful electric shock treatments which probably did nothing except worsen her condition. I was very young and only have one memory of her. We checked her out of the hospital and took her for a picnic. She was very subdued. I remember how sad her death was for my father.

      2. I’m sure her committal was also sad for the family. In those days we knew much less about behavioral diseases. We’re probably making equally bad judgments today.

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