Over the weekend, while we were taking a bit of a break to celebrate our anniversary, one of the stops Angela wanted to make was to The Ridges, in Athens, Ohio. It’s the site of a former insane asylum, most of which is now part of Ohio University. There is one building that is still completely abandoned, parts of the main asylum building that are in some disrepair, and, of course, the cemetery.
In preparation for the trip, I did a little reading on the history of the place, which, of course also read like a history of mental health treatment. On the cemetary page, naturally, we learn why most of the gravestones bear only a number and no name. The vast majority of the patients were simply brought here by their families, and left to die. Only the graves of those patients whose families claimed them, and bore the cost of the headstone, have names.
The lack of names on the tombstones here bears witness to how little mental illness has been understood, and how poorly it has been treated in our past.
Tags: MentalIllness, Asylum, The Ridges, AthensOhio, Cemetery