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This paper attempts a historical review of the evolution of the Psychiatric Hospital of Attica, which carried most of the weight of public psychiatric care until now in Greece, and of Psychiatric Nursing. Its evolution is interwoven with turbulent Greek history, the social problems of its population and the status of psychiatric patients in the social fabric. The care and custody of mental patients, which was at the hands of police at the first asylum, passed at the hands of uneducated staff and gradually at the hands of qualified nurses. The living conditions of clients and of personnel are depicted in the experiences of health care actors, people who did attempt to fight against the dead ends of the asylum. In this context, psychiatric nursing took its first steps in Greece, without realizing the inherent conflict in its dual role, that of care and social control. Nowadays, psychiatric hospitals are shrinking in a rapid pace, leaving behind them as heritage for psychiatric nurses who strive to find their new role in community, courage, ethos and respect for the psychiatric client of the pioneers of psychiatric nursing.