The history of psychiatric hospitals throughout the world is pretty bleak. Patients were often admitted for minor reasons and then spent the rest of their lives inside the hospital walls. During the early days of mental health care, electroshock therapy and lobotomies were common practice and usually done without anesthetic.
It's no surprise, then, that - much like the terrifying haunted asylums around the world - so many of the creepy abandoned hospitals around the world are now hotspots for paranormal activity. One hospital took such bad care of its patients that a woman went missing inside only to be found dead in the basement 42 days later.
Read on for more chilling stories about the world's most terrifying haunted hospitals.
St. Bartholomew's Hospital, England
St. Bartholomew's is the oldest hospital in London, dating back to 1123. It's still operational today.
Inside, there is an elevator known as the "coffin lift," which sometimes takes passengers to the basement all on its own. Once down there, the lights go out, and the elevator won't move. The passenger is usually forced to pull open the gated doors and walk back upstairs, and, the entire time, there is the sensation that the elevator is following up each level. It's usually waiting on the main floor, doors open and lights on, when the passenger arrives.
Rumor has it that the ghost of a nurse who was murdered by a deranged patient in the basement is having a little fun with her fellow nurses.
Gonjiam Hospital, South Korea
Rumors of mysterious deaths and a sudden closure in the 1990s make Gonjiam Hospital one of South Korea's most haunted locations.
Legend has it that patients and staff would suddenly die and be found later in their beds or at their desks. It's possible that a doctor on staff was mentally ill, and he was the one responsible for all of the deaths.
Whatever the reason for the closure, there's no doubt that some bad energy was left behind. People who visit often run screaming from the building after seeing shadows, hearing moans, and feeling the scratch of invisible fingernails on their skin.
Poveglia Island, Italy
Poveglia Island, where the soil is equal parts dirt and human remains, has a long history with death and dying in Italy. During the bubonic plague in the 14th century, the infected were shipped to the small island between Venice and Lido to live out the rest of their miserable days. From that time on, any time a mass infection came around, the dead and half-dead alike were dumped there to smolder in mass graves. And, if that's not enough, a mental hospital was erected on the island in the 1920s.
Now, the island is plagued by angry, restless ghosts, including that of a doctor who - by suicide or murder - fell to his death from the bell tower. Italians avoid the island, well, like the plague.
Alton Mental Health Hospital, Illinois
The Alton Mental Health Center is still operational and not open for paranormal investigations, but some creepy stories have made their way to the outside world.
The hospital, which is a series of buildings connected by tunnels, opened in 1916. Patients were subjected to lobotomies and electroshock therapy. Today, many patients and staff report hearing voices throughout the hospital and in the tunnels.
A nurse working in a secluded part of the building once heard a man behind her ask, "Who's that?" She responded, but nobody was there. The same exact thing happened to another nurse later that night.