It’s the perfect metaphor: decrepit, dilapidated, in disuse, and what’s more, useless and unsettling, like the bodies and minds of their former dwellers. The abandoned mental asylums that dot the American landscape are a rich reminder of a well-intentioned past turned criminally horrific. Built in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, these government-run institutions were once teeming with misunderstood patients seeking to be cured or forced by law to be locked away, like a ship of fools full of torture and punishment until they were abandoned. New psychiatric treatments, deregulation and privatization of the mental health industry condemned the mental asylum to desuetude. But their halls and wards bear witness to the madness unleashed by the system and the caregivers on the “mad”: Rape, murder, torture, abuse, experimentation that truly made the expression “the cure is worse than the disease” an understatement. Take a peek at Time the Avenger, here are the most haunting abandoned mental asylums in America.