McLean Hospital

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McLean Hospital (pronounced /məkˈleɪn/; also known as Somerville Asylum or Charlestown Asylum) is a psychiatric hospital in Belmont, Massachusetts.

It is noted for its clinical staff expertise and ground-breaking neuroscience research. It is also known for the large number of famous people who have been treated there, including mathematician John Nash,[1] poets Robert Lowell[2] and Sylvia Plath,[3][4] singer-songwriters James Taylor[2][5] and Ray Charles,[2][6] and authors Susanna Kaysen[2][5] and David Foster Wallace.

McLean maintains the world's largest neuroscientific and psychiatric research program in a private hospital. It is the largest psychiatric facility of Harvard Medical School, an affiliate of Massachusetts General Hospital and a member of Partners HealthCare, which also owns Brigham and Women's Hospital.



McLean was founded in 1811 in a section of Charlestown, Massachusetts, that is now a part of neighboring Somerville, Massachusetts. Originally named Asylum for the Insane, it was the first institution organized by a cooperation of prominent Bostonians who were concerned about homeless mentally ill persons "abounding on the streets and by-ways in and about Boston." It was built around a Charles Bulfinch mansion, which became the hospital's administrative building; most of the other hospital buildings were completed by 1818. The institution was later given the name The McLean Asylum for the Insane in honor of one of its earliest benefactors, John McLean, who granted it enough money to build several such hospitals at the 1818 cost. A portrait of McLean now hangs in the present Administration Building, along with other paintings that were once displayed in the original hospital. In 1892, the facility was renamed McLean Hospital in recognition of broader views on the treatment of mental illness.

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