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Powerful asylum photos

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If you've ever seen a film involving a mental hospital then you'll probably assume they're all dingy and nightmarish pits of squalor. But, as photographer Christopher Payne has discovered, there's a lot more to them than we've seen on the big screen.

Granted, he't not trying to rewrite history and claim that they were full of frivolity and endless partying but he's trying to show that they were often built by leading architects to be places of civic pride and refuge.

He's spent around six years photographing 70 institutions in 30 states, many of which have since been demolished. In 1948, these hospitals housed over 500,000 patients and acted as self-contained towns, with everything needed under just one roof.

The images represent the scenes that Payne found, with no staging on his part. From the patient's toothbrushes, directly below, to their suitcases underneath.

More of his stunning photos can be seen here.

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