Activists want haunted houses to skip asylums, 'psycho' killers

Posted Monday, October 30, 2006 12:26 PM | Contributed by Jeff

This Halloween, mental-health advocates have a simple request. Scare people with ghouls and goblins. Fill your haunted house with trap doors and tombstones. But leave out the "psychiatric wards," the "insane asylums" and the bloodthirsty killers in straitjackets. Such themes, which have become as much a part of Halloween as pumpkins, reinforce negative stereotypes and a stigma that discourages people from seeking treatment, say activists who wage a yearly fight to remove the images from holiday events.

Read more from The Chicago Tribune via The Star-Telegram.

Monday, October 30, 2006 12:42 PM
God... some people in this country just have way too much free time. What a pointless thing to argue, mostly because no one will ever listen.
Monday, October 30, 2006 1:03 PM
Um, it's all fantasy. All they're doing is calling attention to it.

This post sponsored by the "Please, Please, Please Get A Life Foundation."

Monday, October 30, 2006 1:35 PM
Quote " discourages people from seeking treatment "

That made me laugh, because if you are a "bloodthirsty killer" you are not looking for treatment before or after you visit a haunted mansion! What a lot of bull!

Monday, October 30, 2006 1:47 PM
Actually, I thought it was a good point. At least one friend of mine refuses to get therapy (in this case to deal with the loss of their parents) because they don't want to "be thought of as one of those 'crazy' people".
Monday, October 30, 2006 2:11 PM
I can see their point since places did exist like insane asylums as recent as 1980's. The Dixmont facility in Pennsylvania was one of them which was forced to close around 1985. People with mental illness see themselves as different because of it but most people don't want to face the fact that it can happen to them at any time.

I can see the point where the haunted houses are to scare the heck out of you and to face your fears about such things.

Monday, October 30, 2006 2:20 PM
These activists can set up all the "pc friendly" haunted houses they want, but they shouldnt try to force other groups to abide by there policies!!
They need to get a life!!
Monday, October 30, 2006 2:21 PM
Jeff's avatar I've been getting counseling on and off for about 12 years. It certainly helps me.

But the people who don't want to get help usually have other aversions:

-They think the therapist will tell them how to live. to think.
-...that they're wrong.

Of course, none of those are the case. The only legitimate fear that I hear from people is that they'll be forced to deal with their issues, and that's a totally valid reason to be scared.

Monday, October 30, 2006 2:44 PM
My wife is a psychiatrist. She has a lot of hot buttons around the notion that there are societal biases that label people seeking mental health services negatively. "Asylum" haunted houses are not one of them.
Monday, October 30, 2006 4:03 PM
I kind of agree... but not for the same reason.

I guess I am from the "old school" of Halloween. Give me Vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts, ghouls, zombies, mummies, skeletons, mideavil torture devices, Frankenstien's monster, Edgar Allen Poe, Dr.Jekyll and Mr.Hyde, Quasimodo, Ichabod Crane and the Headless Horseman, rats, etc etc etc... you know, the CLASSICS...

But you can keep your modern Freddie's, Jason's, chainsaw weilding maniacs, etc. Doesn't take any imagination to have someone in a goalie mask jumping out at you from behind a tree and reving a chain saw. To me, that's just laziness.

Monday, October 30, 2006 4:40 PM
Sorry everyone but people are freightend by these things for the same reasons movies such as "House on Haunted Hill" were such a huge success. As an American capitalism where businesses are trying to make the biggest scare for the biggest buck they have the right to do what they wish. They are doing something that scares people. Your traditional scary Halloween vampires and ghosts don't scare people anymore. People want to see crazy people going on the bloodiest killing sprees in history. Example, "Saw" "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and "Hostile" People are scared by crazy homicidal maniacs. If they choose to use these tactics it's there right, the signs outside warn people of what's inside, it's your choice, if you don't like the wards don't go in the house!
Monday, October 30, 2006 5:06 PM
They really need to make a "Saw" house... And then send these people that information in the mail.. Yep..

Amazing gore movie right there... Saw 3 was just, beyond gore. Great movie :)

Monday, October 30, 2006 5:09 PM
john peck's avatar Man that article is CRAZY!
Oooops! Did I offend anyone? :)
Monday, October 30, 2006 5:09 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar You have GOT to be kidding me. If someone doesn't feel like they should experience these things than who is forcing them to visit these attractions? If it scares you then DON'T go. If you have little kids then it's probably not a good idea for them to experience such things.

I am very "old school" Halloween as well. Give me chainsaws, crazy psychos running after me with machetes, blood and guts everywhere. Give me the most insane "psycho wards" with people screaming in straight jackets and stobe lights all over the place. THAT is what haunted attractions are meant to be, at least for anyone who can handle them. There is nothing more hilarious than the "Psycho path" or "trail" at PKI. I think it's a riot! Who on earth takes this seriously?

What a bunch of bull***. It's all FAKE and it's all FUN! They pick on music, movies, video games, old school Looney Tunes, Barbie Dolls, coasters with "demonic" names, and now they are trying to to wussify Halloween.

What's this world coming to? Is Halloween becoming politically correct now? Who's next? Santa Claus and the Eater Bunny?

JUST when you think you have heard it all.........

I didn't really care about any of the "Saw" movies (I am more into the psychological thrillers than the slasher movies, although the Saw movies had plenty of both) although an attraction based on the movies would be interesting. I would see it!


<---getting off the soapbox now.

*** This post was edited by coasterqueenTRN 10/30/2006 5:35:38 PM ***

Monday, October 30, 2006 7:29 PM

Is Halloween becoming politically correct now?

One could argue that compared to the original Celtic origins, it already is.

Monday, October 30, 2006 9:21 PM
As a mental health intern I have to agree. I've been practicing as a clinical therapist for three years and the article has a lot of truth in it.

(and as it's midterms time in grad school)Larry Davidson in "Living Outside Schizophrenia" wrote:
"[One of the] major barriers to defining and expanding on the self in relation to others described by people with schizophrenia [is] posed by stigma."

That means that people with schizophrenia often say that one of the major things stopping them from seeking treatment/developing normal relationships is stuff like these haunted houses and horror movies.

From the same article:
"The U.S. surgeon general's (1999) report[...] cited stigma as the number one barrier to acess to care"

so the US surgeon general's office agrees. Or at least they did in 1999.

So yeah, I agree with getting rid of the asylums. It's hard enough for someone to live with a serious mental illness without having people afraid of them going on murderous rampages and other spook house crap. It's not hard to have a haunted attraction without them. Look at the haunted houses at Knoebles or Indiana Beach.

Okay I guess it's back to midterms :/

Monday, October 30, 2006 9:35 PM
I also think most people in this thread haven't read the article. It's not that people find them 'scary' or that they're 'not P.C.' it's that they actually make people with serious mental illness's lives harder.

People with schizophrenia have serverly impared reality testing; and even if the public does not believe these images, the mental health patients may internalize them which would make it that much harder for these individuals to interact with real people.

This could increase paranoia, delusions, and greatly impare the individuals desire to seek treatment; and if in treatment it could impare the ability to get better (schizophrenia does not have to be a dibilitating illness).

Okay sorry for getting on my clinical soapbox.

Monday, October 30, 2006 10:39 PM
So i guess we cant do anything in society that might upset someone who has a mental illness or make there live's harder??
There are alot of things that go on in life that makes someone's life harder, but they dont have a lobbying group trying to change everything. I think insane asylums etc are a great tradition of halloween and shouldnt be removed to satisfy a very small segment of society. If they have trouble with them then they can get counseling to cope with it, but the rest of society shouldnt be forced to change to make them happy. I wish i could go around and change things because it upsets me, but I cant so I just cope with it as the majority of people do.
Monday, October 30, 2006 10:52 PM
coasterqueenTRN's avatar ^That's why they SHOULD avoid them if they feel it will interfere with their mental health. Nobody is forcing anyone to do something they don't want to. If someone gets on a roller coaster with a heart or nervous condition and something happens is it their fault? They knew the risks beforehand. If someone smokes and gets cancer is it their fault? It certainly isn't the cigarette companies. Those warning labels were there LONG before people found out they could sue the tobacco companies for something that was their own doing.

If a friend of mine had a serious condition like schizophrenia I wouldn't expect them to go into a Halloween attraction with strobe lights and actors running all over the place screaming, just as I wouldn't expect someone with a serious heart condition to ride a rollercoaster.

If a patient with mental problems feels that they can't develop relationships because of haunted houses or scary movies then they should ignore them, plain and simple. That doesn't mean the rest of the public should go through sugar-coated versions of Haunted Houses.

I have severe claustrophobia. Do I expect everything to change just to satisfy those who have claustrophobia? No, I just avoid closed-in places. Granted, it's a phobia and not a serious condition like schizophrenia but you get my point.

As far as being PC, well I think that got way out of hand a LONG time ago.


*** This post was edited by coasterqueenTRN 10/30/2006 11:00:08 PM ***

Tuesday, October 31, 2006 3:47 AM
No, I don't get your point, and I think you missed mine.It's not the experience of 'haunted asylums' that creates the problem, it's everyone elses experience in these places which causes stigma surrounding mental illness.I'm not talking about sugar coating to appease a small group of people either.If a person with mental illness internalizes the idea that 'insane' people behave in this way; or more that the public believes they do; it can stop the individual from ever being able to recover. It can also increase the likeliness of suicide (because the majority of people with mental illness would kill themselves before intentionally causing harm to others.)Is this a cause I would have taken up on my own? no.Am I going to boycott these 'haunted asylums' or do anything else to help this cause? no.All that I am trying to convey is that this cause is not another 'lets sugar coat/PC everything in sight' campain. This cause actually has merit.You can disagree with what they're trying to do, that's fine everyone can have an opinion. But there have been research studies conducted that show negative stigma caused by things such as this can have disastrous effects on the rehabilitation of the mentally ill.

EDIT: and to Bob O: People with serious mental illness most likely are already in treatment, and if they are not it's a possibility things such as this and movies are why.

People with serious mental illness lack the ability to cope with things in the same way that you and I can.

And also when else have you ever heard of a lobbyist group doing something in an attempt to benefit the mentally ill in america? I'm emersed in this stuff and from my experience it is between very rare and nt at all.

Is the loss of insane asylums in haunted houses that big of a deal to people?
*** This post was edited by mike okay 10/31/2006 3:53:23 AM ***


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