Thumbing through the Columbia University magazine, Winter 2009-10, I came across a review of Asylum: Inside the Closed World of State Mental Hospitals, by Payne and Sachs. Haunting and eerie, it takes on a journey that, hopefully, few of us will ever assume in real life. Long Islands Pilgrim State was the largest facility of its kind in the world when it was built in the 1930s:I was astounded by its desolation I wondered how a place so big could be so forsaken. Creedmoor State Hospital and others, both when they were hellish warehouses of neglect and cruelty; and when they were, like the hundreds and thousands of people who inhabited them, forsaken. The first state hospitals were often palatial buildings, with high ceilings, lofty windows, and spacious grounds, providing abundant light, space, and fresh air, along with exercise and a varied diet .most were largely self-supporting and grew or raised most of their own food. Patients would work in the fields and dairies, work being considered a central form of therapy for them Community and companionship, too, were central- indeed vital- for patients who would otherwise be isolated in their obsessions or hallucinations. These hospitals, invariably built far from populated areas, also offered literal asylum by providing control and protection for patients, both from their own (perhaps suicidal or homicidal) impulses and from ridicule, isolation, aggression, or abuse so often visited upon them by the outside world. By the end of the 19th century, state mental facilities had become bywords for squalor and negligence, and were often run by inept, corrupt, or sadistic bureaucrats. This is the sentence that jogged my conscience to the present: There is something utopian about these self-sufficient communities that ultimately, alas, devolved into dystopian dumping grounds .sadness, deterioration, and death. In this review, one sees the conclusion of the Progressive regimen. The outcome of turning our existence over to government bureaucrats, technocrats, experts. The end of individuality. The dystopia that is the presaged result of attempts at earthly utopia.