I once worked in a place that wasn't quite a mental asylum
but certainly was used as the 'storage bin' for lots of crazy people (a Salvation Army
residential centre). Basically, they'd send people to us who weren't dangerous to anybody but couldn't quite hack it on the streets.
Our patient management techniques were pretty basic. Dope them up until they were content to be bored. Thorazine. Stenozanol. King sized doses of Ativan. Anything to put people into a nice drooling haze, where all they do is sit around and watch TV. N0 talking. NO bitching. NO thinking. NO therapy. Just 3 hospital meals a day, drooling, and plenty of television. Make sure they swallow their pills! Wouldn't want anyone thinking now, would we?
I remember one guy in particular. He had a pretty serious case of Tourette's Syndrome (where you curse, swear, and abuse yourself pathologically). When he first arrived he was pretty abusive, even with his meds. The staff complained. They increased his dosages. He calmed down a little, and hunched over and drooled, but he would still occasionally call the attendants "sons of fucking whores" and the like. So, more meds, different meds, a whole fucking little cup full of different-coloured pills twice a day. Make sure he swallows! After that he wouldn't even budge when you dropped off his food tray. He'd just stare off into nothingness and drool on himself. For all intents and purposes, he was dead, kept physically alive to fund the institution.
Think this is abnormal? Think again. At least we didn't strap people into their beds or give them electroshock therapy. These guys had been released from the serious institutions. And in the serious institutions they routinely threaten troublesome patients with these sorts of things. Won't take your meds? Fine. We'll schedule you for EST on Monday. People get real co-operative when you threaten them with electrical torture.
The ward they send you to for a couple of weeks when you have a breakdown is not the same as the one filled with the lifers. This is no tropical island we're talking about. You should take a look at 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' and take that as a guide to the reality of mental institutions instead of these silly ass novels and movies. I'd rather be in a cage then exiled to a living death with the latest in pharmaceutical technology.