Cathedrals of Decay

August 19

Juli Lawrence

This isn’t exactly about electroconvulsive therapy, but it’s too moving to fail to acknowledge and praise this site…and the artist.

I’m also not quite sure what category to put it in, so I’m going to put it in self help. For some, this site could be cathartic. For others, a warning: it could trigger bad memories.

Can there be pure beauty in the midst of despair? I’ve always thought that much of Kurt Cobain’s music came from the depths of his own hell. Yet his music was some of the best music (at least in my opinion) ever. I say the same of Beethoven. Sylvia Plath. Hemingway.

A woman on the East coast has found comfort and healing in photography, specifically pictures of decay. This website moves me, as do the photographs. I imagine myself with a camera in some of the places I’ve been, particularly a state hospital called Anna State Hospital (Choate) in extreme Southern Illinois.

Many of these photos could have been taken there, though the place still functions. It embodies the term snake pit. The outside looked almost surreal; lovely, manicured grounds with huge old trees, a fountain (I think I illegally splashed in it just to annoy the staff, but maybe that was somewhere else), and even old-fashioned garden swings.

On the inside, however, it looked like these pictures. Decay. Despair. Wounded souls.

And yet there’s something enchanting about this website, and I’ve been drawn there again and again.

If you aren’t haunted by bad memories – or at least think you can stand it – go there and spend some time.

Comments (5)

Rodney YoderJuly 27th, 2007 at 9:24 pm

Look in a mirror if you want to view some decay. By the way, Choate MHC isn’t all you craked it up to be based on my visits their. I still fondly remember all the evil you ended up doing to me and my kinfolks.

Bon VivantAugust 26th, 2007 at 3:21 pm

That’s a beatiful site with all the art work! Julie, thanks for such a helpful organization and sites. I just joined the message boards and it looks like a lot of good information about shock therapy. Over 3000 members is a lot of people. My sister is having shock therapy and I want to learn more about it. Thanks, BV

SoDepressedApril 5th, 2008 at 11:35 am

I have been depressed for years and ECT is my last hope. Can you tell me of some places to get ECT in the Phoenix area. Thank u. I’m desparate.

TinaAugust 1st, 2008 at 3:05 pm

I was looking for information on Choate. My sister is their and Im trying to learn more about it.


The JokerJanuary 27th, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Speaking of craked (sic) up, the first poster here seems to be on crack himself, yes? Can’t even tell the difference between there and their. Either crack or just retarded. Or is it MENTAL ILLNESS!

You all suck, mental people. You’re mentally ill so take your meds like good mental patients. If you don’t, we’ll have to use the baton.

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