Correction appended. 

The Ohio University Press published a paperback version of Katherine Ziff’s Asylum on the Hill: History of a Healing Landscape, to commemorate the 150th anniversary of The Ridges. 

Ziff, a clinical professional counselor at Hudson Health Center, originally got the book published through OU Press in 2012. The book was recently re-published with an afterword from OU’s interim Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Joseph Shields and Associate Vice President for University Planning Shawna Bolin. 

“Dr. Shields and Ms. Bolin have been key players in Ohio University's planning of the repurposing of The Ridges,” Director of Ohio University Press Gillian Berchowitz said in an email. 

Berchowitz said the term republishment means OU Press published a paperback edition of Ziff’s book with new additions.

“We know that nature is curative, so we really come back around to that approach of being in nature,” Ziff said. “We have therapeutic landscapes (at The Ridges) which are developed in hospitals and all kinds of institutions now.”

The paperback version also includes a full-color aerial photo of The Ridges by university photographer Ben Siegel. 

The book is part of a 11-year research project, which began as her dissertation topic. 

Berchowitz said after Ziff finished the dissertation on the history of The Ridges, Ziff approached her in about 2009 or 2010 and was eager to write the book and get it published.

“So many people were involved with the asylum as patients or staff; the buildings are so imposing and atmospheric; and the grounds so beautiful, that we thought that there would be considerable interest in a well-researched, well-told account of the history of The Ridges and what it set out to do for the care of the communities that it served,” Berchowitz said in an email. 

Today, the asylum is called The Ridges. When it was founded in 1867, it was known as the Athens Lunatic Asylum and only spread 150 acres. According to the book, over time, the asylum reached more than 1,000 acres and became attractive and “handsomely cultivated.”

The Athens Lunatics Asylum did not restrain its patients. In Ziff’s book, she describes the process of creating the asylum and its radical movement toward treating patients morally within mental health institutions. 

“I’m hoping that people will read the book to get a perspective about the actual real history of our community, and a history of mental health,” Ziff said.  

Ziff has worked as a counselor for more than 20 years. She received degrees in both clinical and school counseling from Wake Forest College in North Carolina.

“In addition to enjoying working with (Counseling and Psychological Services) staff. I love working with our students,” Ziff said. 

Ziff works through a person-centered approach at Hudson Health Center. 

“Rather than telling someone what to do or quickly diagnosing and leading someone along with some predetermined cure to path, you are listening and working with the client every step,” Ziff said. “Where they want to go — their pace, their goals — that is at the center of the work.” 


Correction: A previous version of this report incorrectly stated how long the project was. It also misquoted Ziff. The article has been updated to reflect the most accurate information. 

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