The mansion of madness: the mythical La Castañeda asylum, where most were sane

La Castañeda was a psychiatric hospital known for its mistreatment of residents

The Castañeda was one of the great works with which the former president and general Porfirio Diaz celebrated the Centennial of Independence.

His government acquired the property that before it was a farm and pulque factoryIt was on this place that they then built one of the most modern psychiatric hospitals of the time.

This is how La Castañeda before being mental hospital, It was a pulque farm that belonged to Don Ignacio Torres Adalid, a powerful businessman who owns several similar properties in other states of the republic: Hidalgo and Tlaxcala. For that reason he was known as “El Rey del Pulque”.

This clinic served around 58 years before being demolished in 1968, months before the October 2 massacre.
This clinic served around 58 years before being demolished in 1968, months before the October 2 massacre.

La Castañeda was an enclosure located south of the city, in the Mixcoac area, where the housing units are currently located Mixcoac Towers, Lomas de Platero and the National Preparatory School No 8 “Miguel E. Schulz”.

Before its construction, mentally ill patients were cared for in church-subsidized institutions and public welfare, such as the Divino Salvador, San Hipólito and La Canoa hospitals.

The La Castañeda hospital was built to house and care for around 1,200 patients, who would be divided into 24 buildings in this huge place. The former hacienda had a total area of ​​more than 140 thousand square meters.

La Castañeda's patients were classified into "epileptic, morons, dangerous", and so on
La Castañeda’s patients were classified as “epileptic, imbeciles, dangerous,” and so on.

The cost of the construction of La Castañeda amounted to 1.7 million pesos; It was inaugurated on September 1, 1910, a few months after the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution.

In addition, Porfirio Díaz himself, his wife, and the highest officials of the country, in the framework of the celebrations of the Centennial of Independence, were the ones who opened this clinic.

Throughout their 58 years of existence, La Castañeda housed 61,480 patients. However, from being a lavish “palace for the insane” turned into hell from the 1920s.

Their wards were classified according to how patients were rated; to be honest, they were a bit rude adjectives: “distinguished, alcoholics, quiet, dangerous, epileptics, idiots, and infectious”.

The residents of the former hacienda were transferred to different hospitals when the Castañeda was demolished.
The residents of the former hacienda were transferred to different hospitals when the Castañeda was demolished.

After several decades in operation, the madhouse fell into oblivion and it went from being the best psychiatric hospital to becoming a nightmare; La Castañeda’s black past is full of stories of abuse, abandonment and torture the sick.

There were times when the hospital capacity was not enough And yet, its doors were kept open as federal resources and sponsorships dropped considerably.

The people who came across this mental institution it was because he was branded as suffering from “insanity”, yet some other patients were simply thrown into hell by their own families, despite not having any signs of illness.

The patients lived horrors in La Castañeda, without distinguishing their age, sex or condition
The patients lived horrors in La Castañeda, without distinguishing their age, sex or condition

The conditions in which they lived were deplorable. In addition to suffering from abuse of electroshock treatments, freezing water baths, and confinement in damp rooms full of rats, medical personnel treated them in inhumane ways.

Soon the martyrdom for these people would end but their spirit would torment the next generations.

This enclosure came to an end on June 27, 1968, when Gustavo Díaz Ordaz and his Secretary of Health, General Rafael Moreno Valle, proceeded to close the property. The 3,000 patients were relocated to other hospitals.

In this way, La Castañeda was demolished but its façade was preserved and moved to a house in Amecameca, in Paso de Cortés, where it can still be seen.

Old photographs of the madhouse.  Photo: INAH
Old photographs of the madhouse. Photo: INAH

In the 1970s, on the grounds of La Castañeda the Torres de Mixcoac subdivision was built. Neighbors who inhabited the buildings say that very strange things happened there.

It is said that, from ten o’clock at night, wailing and furniture being dragged. In the common corridors of the multi-family it is possible to see pots that move by themselves and even people going up and down stairs screaming at the top of their lungs.

Today there is no more information about it, not even from former internees, which is extremely strange, as if they were only ghosts or visions of the past.

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Reference-www.infobae.com

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