Graveyard Shift

7 Eerie Paranormal Happenings in Old Mental Institutions

Crazy stuff happens every day in mental asylums, as these employees can attest. Take it from former inmates: living in a mental institution can be hard and often scary. Not that long ago - before the modern renaissance of psychological research - mental institutions weren't only scary, they were dangerous. At those abandoned asylums terrible things used to happen to patients. Maybe that's why some of them never left - even after death. 

While films like House on Haunted Hill and Grave Encounters provided fictional glimpses into this prospect, the reality is just as bone-chilling. Not only is the sight of these abandoned buildings terrifying, the possible spirits inside will also send chills down your spine.

Ghost stories from old mental institutions involve spirits who were never able to escape from their mental torments. Haunted mental asylums and abandoned mental institutions are hotbeds for paranormal spirits. These stories from these haunted mental institutions are sure to scare even the sanest individual. Proceed with caution - this is not for the faint of heart.

  • Shadow People Terrorize Visitors At The Rolling Hills Asylum

    Shadow People Terrorize Visitors At The Rolling Hills Asylum
    Video: YouTube

    First opened in 1827, the New York facility started as a poor house where society's dregs could be housed and purportedly receive care. Habitual drunkards, paupers, and lunatics were all welcome at the asylum, which included a farm where the able bodied would work to reduce the cost of housing. In 1928 a separate stone building was added to the facility specifically for the housing of "lunatics." The insane were housed there until 1887 when they were transferred to other facilities in the state. It closed outright in 1974. The thousands who died in the facility over its long years of operation are buried in the nearby potter's field.

    Proprietress Sharon Coyle-Farley is just one of the many to have witnessed shadow apparitions playing tricks on the living. She was with two other paranormal investigators when one of them began being poked and prodded by an unseen force. Sharon quickly took a picture and captured the dark form of a hand reaching out to touch her friend. In another encounter, Ghost City Tours actually managed to capture a shadow figure on video (as seen above) as it walked across the decrepit hallway.

  • The Screams Of Children Echo Through The Halls Of Pennhurst Mental Asylum

    The Screams Of Children Echo Through The Halls Of Pennhurst Mental Asylum
    Photo: Smccphotog / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    Pennhurst State School and Hospital was a terrible place. Opened in 1908, it was first named the Eastern Pennsylvania State Institution for Epileptics and Feeble Minded. Almost immediately, it was overcrowded. The sprawling complex was designed to be self-sufficient, and while it was open it received very little contact with the outside world.

    Rampant neglect escalated to the point where patients would be left bound in their metal cribs for months. Patients suffered abuse, rape, and death at the hands of both staff and other patients. Punishments for bad behavior were harsh. For example, when a patient showed a proclivity for biting, they would have their teeth removed. An expose by NBC titled "Suffer the Little Children" began drawing attention to the conditions at the facility in 1968, and in 1987 it was closed.

    Over 10,000 patients were admitted to the asylum over the years, and its unclear how many died there. Paranormal investigators regularly record EVPs in the dilapidated old buildings, frequently hearing the screams of children calling out from beyond the grave. The Ghost Adventures crew captured a plethora of paranormal evidence during their investigation of Pennhurst. They encountered inexplicable footsteps, ghostly screams, and disembodied voices. Zak Bagans was even assaulted by one spirit wielding a stick with nails sticking out of it. This paranormal hot spot can best be described as extremely active.

  • The Lost Soul Of Young Lilly Remains Trapped Within The Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

    After being interrupted by the Civil War, construction on this West Virginia asylum was finally completed in 1881, though the first patient was actually admitted in 1864. The facility was built following the Kirkbride Plan which called for the massive gothic buildings typical of asylums during the era. It was designed to house 250 patients, but at one point overcrowding led to 2,400 patients.

    During its 130 years in operation, the facility bore witness to countless horrors within the grounds. Misbehaving patients were routinely chained up in solitary confinement for months at a time. Several murders occurred here, with the victims including both patients and staff. One murder was committed by a patient named Joe. With the help of a friend he grabbed the recently lobotomized patient Charley and placed him on the ground. They picked up a bed and placed a post on Charley's head... and then jumped on the bed.

    While countless souls have been witnessed wandering the halls of the abandoned asylum, the spirit of a young girl named Lilly is particularly well documented. Asylum expert Shelley Bailey was with a group in the "blue room" when she encountered the spirit. The group asked Lilly if she would like to play, and placed a red ball on the floor. A few moments later, the ball rolled on its own to the far wall. The group played with Lilly for several minutes, bouncing the ball back and forth with their invisible playmate.

  • The Moans Of The Infirm Can Still Be Heard In The Waverly Hills Sanatorium

    The Moans Of The Infirm Can Still Be Heard In The Waverly Hills Sanatorium
    Photo: Kris Arnold / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain

    The Kentucky facility was initially opened in 1924 as a hospital to treat tuberculosis. In 1962, after advances in medicine rendered tuberculosis a thing of the past, it closed its doors only to reopen a year later as a geriatric hospital for the treatment of mental illness. It was closed in 1980 amid evidence of abuse and neglect, and has stood vacant since - save for the spirits that still reside there.

    One such spirit is a young nurse who worked at the sanatorium in the 1930s. After finding out she was pregnant out of wedlock, and allegedly contracting tuberculosis, she did something drastic. She decided to hang herself in Room 502.

    When the Ghost Adventures crew investigated the site, they caught some pretty compelling evidence. A shadow figure was filmed walking through the halls toward the camera. They also captured the audible moan of a patient who had long since left the living, but not the building.