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Former Psychiatric Hospital is the sixth episode of Season 1 of Ghost Adventures. Zak, Nick and Aaron go to New Jersey to investigate an abandoned psychiatric hospital. This hospital once housed thousands of mentally ill patients, many of whom died due to poor conditions. Witnesses have reported disembodied voices and dark shadows there.


In northern New Jersey lies an abandoned psychiatric hospital whose name is protected ( yet easy to google). It is the biggest location the GAC have yet investigated, sitting on over 90 acres of land, and it housed over 1000 patients who were tormented by mental illness, some of whom had died. Local historian Bob Williams provides some backstory: This facility began in 1872 back when the county fathers had decided it would be advantageous to have mental health care in the county rather than sending patients off to an institution at Greystone. They first built the "Hill Buildings" of the complex in 1895. At the turn of the century, psychology was in its infancy. Mental illness was a source of fear and shame, and families locked away loved ones in institutions like this away from society. It was pretty much eternal torture. Those who were treated were often subject to barbaric therapies, such as "hydrotherapy", where they would water somebody down in lukewarm water, and "Diathermics", where they would attach electrodes to patients' heads. A lot of people spent the last years of their lives here.

In the winter of 1917, the heat broke, and for weeks thousands suffered in the sub-zero conditions and many died. These deaths were only a small portion of the deaths at the psychiatric hospital, though: There were over 10,000 deaths over all. This, of course, leaves behind ghosts; people from other departments stationed here have seen a nurse in full 18th-century garb walking around making rounds in the otherwise abandoned halls. Eyewitness Rob Feinberg says he and some others were once walking around in one of the buildings, and at the end of a hall they opened a closed door and a huge wave of windy energy of some sort passed through them, giving the feeling that whatever it was was quite upset that they opened its door. Various other witnesses recount stories of how they felt something was there that did not want intruders. There was even a case where independent filmmaker Chris Notarile was using the hospital to film a scene where a doctor character tries to interrogate a child character, and a very clear male voice is captured saying "It looks very cool" without any of the actors or staff having heard it in real time.

The GAC are toured through a miles-long network of dark, confusing, maze-like tunnels connecting the various buildings of the hospital by two people in the know. They show them where a misty orb was very visibly captured twice in a row in two photographs by them, and show them another place where they felt something cold pass through them - these and the other cases of spiritual activity were manifesting in the daytime. Jim Chaffee, retired Fire Chief of the psychiatric hospital, showed them how to access these tunnels through the old patients' ward in Building 5. Jim relates one instance where he heard a male voice in the tunnel yelling for help, and that was after the place had been closed and nobody was there. As they go through the low ceilings of the tunnel, they take notice of painted "death arrows" and other satanic symbols that point them toward various areas of interest in the complex. They come across an old medical bed hailing from the 1940's. Jim then takes them on a shortcut tot heir final destination, the morgue, where they get to a temporary holding ward containing a cabinet where bodies were shelved.


The lockdown at the psychiatric hospital begins at 7:15 PM. Because of the sheer size of the location and the fact there's asbestos abound in various areas, Zak, Nick and Aaron investigate equipped with walkie-talkies, earpieces, and face masks. This will be quite a dangerous investigation because of these factors and that they are investigating in pitch blackness; in a humorous scene at the start, Zak accidentally prods his fingers into Nick's eyes while checking if Nick has his mask on. They first get to planting their static night vision cameras at marked spots, then Zak uses an experimental piece of equipment that generates an electromagnetic resonance within the visible light spectrum, in hopes of attracting ghosts. He and Nick hear a ghostly conversation of sorts go on, and feel the telltale signs of ghostly presence on their bodies. All of a sudden, they briefly hear and record a female vocalization. Then something at the end of the hall they're at bangs loudly, and they try to investigate. They hear and record another, even more impressive female vocalization that clearly says "Hello". They believe they're communicating with a ghostly nurse.

By 12:00AM, Zak goes through with the idea of sitting alone in a cell while wearing a straitjacket, and trying to call out to the spirits. After a while, a breathy EVP saying "help me" is caught. Then, a patient door down a hallway is heard squeaking. The three head deeper into the bowels of the asylum, and go into the miles-long tunnel network, the most dangerous place where they could easily get lost. Nick says he heard a voice. Right afterward, Zak is shocked and shaken by an event which he captures on his night vision camera and his camera only, and is not captured on the other cameras even though they were focused on the same area: a silhouette of a clear human hand appearing out of Zak's silhouette on the wall and grabbing Zak's arm, with Zak feeling an icy-cold pressure on his arm at that moment, even though none of the three investigators were moving. As they review the footage to see this event again, they notice from Aaron's camera that a ball of light was recorded zooming toward Zak at the moment he reacted to the hand; it appears to correlate. Nick does an EMF sweep and encounters a couple instances of EMF spikes. They proceed further into the tunnels toward the morgue.

They make it to the morgue with the cabinets where bodies were stored. They come up with the plan to place Nick into the morgue cabinet and lock him in there, as bait for ghostly activity, while Zak and Aaron investigate elsewhere in the tunnels. Zak and Aaron, not knowing where they are now, make it into an old patient ward, and they hear and capture a loud female singing on their camera's audio. Nick, being recorded by a previously set-up tripod in the morgue cabinet, reports being very cold, and he captures a breathy EVP saying "DIE." Ten minutes later, he reports getting the trembles, saying he can feel whoever it is beside him, then starts panicking and trying to knock his way out of the cabinet by force. He is unable to do so, however. Zak and Aaron decide to go back for Nick, and he reports over walkie-talkie that he feels he's going crazy from the confinement; the other two, lost within the tunnels, have difficulty making it back to the morgue because the doors they made it through locked on them from behind, but eventually make it and release Nick from his cabinet. Sometime afterward, they record an orb going into Nick's head, and Nick reports feeling that he was slapped in the right cheek, with a visible red handprint on his cheek, to the shock of the others. The lockdown eventually ends at 6:20AM.

The GAC head to Phoenix, Arizona, to meet Bryan Abel, a well-renowned paranormal expert with over 25 years of experience, and show him their evidence. They show Bryan the footage of the orb of energy that appears to be an intelligent manifestation, and the impressive footage of the "spirit hand" that attacked Zak on the arm that correlates with another orb. Bryan is most certainly impressed.


  • Physical Contact: When doing the black light experiment, Nick starts feeling sad, as if a spirit is using his energy.
  • EVPs: "help me", "die"
  • Residual Noises: Banging, Door squeaking, Knocking
  • Disembodied Speaking: Female voice, "hello", Female singing
  • Physical Contact/Apparition: Aaron's camera captures a ball of light that moves toward Zak and Nick and at the same time, Zak captures a shadow figure that he described looked like a hand grabbing him, that he reacted to.
  • Visual Sighting: Zak claimed he saw a man standing in the hallway where he was grabbed.
  • EMF Fluctuation: Nick receives several spikes on the EMF Detector, one up to a 4.
  • Physical Contact: The GAC claim that they had a feeling that they were going insane while doing their investigation.
  • Apparition: Aaron's camera captures a small orb that moves up near Nick's lower back, pauses, and moves towards his head.
  • Physical Harm: After the orb moves near Nick's head, his right cheek has what appears to be a hand print, as if someone has slapped him.


  • Bob Williams - Local Historian
  • Judy Franklin - Eyewitness
  • Rob FeinbergEyewitness
  • Lauren Feinberg - Eyewitness
  • Chris Notarile - Eyewitness
  • John DeGennaro - Fire & Safety Dir, Psychiatric Hospital
  • Tom Hamilton - Asst Director, Psychiatric Hospital
  • Jim Chaffee - Fire Chief (Retired), Psychiatric Hospital


  • The name of the hospital was revealed in a later episode as the "Essex County Hospital". It is also addressed by this name in Zak's book, Dark World.
  • A deleted scene from Ghost Adventures Season 1 DVD features an expanded explanation of the inmate wall paintings as well as further details of John DeGennero's experience with an unseen entity poking him while resetting a fire alarm.
  • Some of the evidence stated above was not reshown for replays. This event was found mostly in Seasons 1 to 2.
Season 1 Episodes
Bobby Mackey's Music WorldHoughton MansionMoundsville PenitentiaryRiddle HouseSloss FurnaceAbandoned NJ Psychiatric HospitalEdinburgh VaultsOld Idaho Penitentiary