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These Black and White Photos Capture the Everyday Struggles of Patients at a Mental Hospital in New York in the 1930s

The treatment of mental illness has come a long way since the 1930s. Now, in most countries, mental illness treatments are immeasurably more humane, comprehensive and discerning than the brutal approaches of even just a few decades ago. Advancements in psychiatric medications alone have allowed countless people lead fuller lives than they might have without drugs. And yet... the grim, desolate tone of the black and white photos below give off a feeling of uneasiness;  they feel eerily contemporary to anyone familiar with psych wards in countless large hospitals today.

Photos by: LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt

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