Monday, September 13, 2010

Mentally Ill Stuffed Animals

A depressed turtle.
A delusional snake.
A paranoid crocodile.
A sheep with multiple personality disorder.
A hippo with autism.

At first glance, you might think these are cute. But go further and you'll learn that these furry animals are stuffed with stigmatizing beliefs about mental illness.

Parapleusch - a European toy company - is selling these toys with the tag line "Psychiatry for Abused Toys". On the website, you can play an online game at The Asylum and give "treatment" to the toy of your choice. But be prepared for stereotyped crazy behavior, outdated and incorrect diagnostic labels, hallucinogenic drug reactions and the always insulting puppet-sock therapy. Make sure you see the "no-hanging" suicide policy wall sign in the community room. Insensitive. Distasteful. Stigmatizing.

Several blogs have picked up on this story - so you might be hearing about this in mainstream media soon. I'm no stick in the mud. I do enjoy humor. But this kinda stuff needs to stop.

What do you think?





34 comments:

Ami said...

I kind of had mixed feelings, but had not perused the website.

Humor is good in dealing with mental illness, but not making FUN of it.

I guess we'll know what people think if the company sinks without a trace... or the guy makes a billion?

Dr. Deb said...

Ami,
Check out the site and then tell me what you think. Humor is good, but not like this.

Wanda's Wings said...

Metal illness is not a joking matter. I think it is in very poor taste.

Kelly Norman said...

Hi Deb, these animals are actually from an online game which appears to be designed for mental health professionals; each of the stuffed animals has symptoms and the player gets the choice of various treatments (primarily medication & psychoanalysis) to "treat" them. Through psychoanalysis we find out what some of the stuffed animals has been through....I remember one was used as a sponge to clean a toilet (very traumatic for a stuffed animal, I would imagine) and one was used by drug dealers to hide drugs. Obviously kind of funny, but the game itself did not appear designed to make fun of mental illness in any way. I've been googling and trying to find the game...haven't looked at it for a number of years.

Kelly Norman said...

Found it! http://www.parapluesch.de/

Xmichra said...

I don't know If I find it offencive or not. My first instinct is no, I am not. But I also think that poking fun at my own issues helps me realise that whatever it is that i am anxious about, likely isn't worth all the energy. But that is me, and my approach to my issues. I know that some people might find that this is to filled with stigmas, and does nothing but make them feel more ashamed of their own problems... and that is never a good thing. So that is where I find the discretion portion of this to be a little to askew.

Von said...

Tastless, tacky, not funny and ridiculous!!!

THE OLD GEEZER said...

This will be an interesting topic to follow especially if the media get hold of it.

~Ron

purplepineapple said...

I don't find this funny at all. They crossed the line and people are going to be seriously offended and hurt by it....if not already.

:(

CrackerLilo said...

To say the very least, I don't think these will motivate people to pursue treatment for their problems.

yogurt said...

I think I won't be buying any Paraplusch toys :(

Stan said...

the uproar over Psycho donuts and now those offensive Paraplusch stuffed animals.

It appears some people really take their psych labels seriously and as a sacred identity symbol...

I guess the new DSM-V spin to win your loony-tunes label game is going to go over huge with this crowd. (go directly to the mental hospital, do not pass go, do not collect $200 )

Maybe a little more concern over those actually in mental wards being treated worse than prisoners, or those being forced drugging without informed consent, or just maybe giving toddlers dangerous anti-psychotic drugs with insanity labels would be a tad more worthy of your time and efforts.

But no, let's all attack sigma (even when done in jest) by defending your own well cultivated sigma.

Maybe you can carry some protest signs at the next drug pimping NAMI walk protesting crazy stuffed animals.

Bec said...

As toys alone (not including the website), I do admit they do look rather cute. And perhaps they could be used to educate children whose parents have a mental illness, (I would guess if children are at an age to be given such a diagnosis that they would be too old for toys). There are lots of toys out there which are used to teach children about various illnesses.

I will be watching to see what comes out of this. I think it will be interesting

Heidi said...

I'm giving this a thumbs down. :(

Kelly said...

I wasn't really offended, actually.

Casdok said...

Im with you on this one.

Battle Weary said...

I admit I wasn't too offended by the stuffed animals...more of a "*sigh* here we go again" reaction. However, I find myself quite offended by a comment!

emilyrossiter said...

I think this is EXACTLY the kind of thing that perpetuates the idea that mental illness is some kind of freakish condition and makes people afraid to speak out about their illness. This website should be admonished for their behavior. Doesn't NAMI watch out for things like this? I'm half asleep right now, but I will certainly go and see if I can send these people a polite message to stop this later.

MyThought said...

Well... at first, when I saw the picture of your post I just thought that they are soo cute. And they're still cute, after seeing the website. But that game is just tasteless. It does feel as if they were making fun of mental illnesses.

It is obvious that the creators have no idea about the many aspects of mental illness.

Tasteless, stereotyped and will make many people feel they should be embarrased about their condition.

Ian Lidster said...

It is both weird and thoroughly distasteful.

Awake In Rochester said...

I thought it was a bit funny, but I'm crazy that way. ;) Most of the toy patients were unavailable for examination. Hm, what could they be up to?

Nainja said...

I actually don't mind the toys. Used in the right way, they could raise awarness to mental health issues.And they are quite cute.
However, the online game is pretty tasteless and the company seems to have more a bad taste of humor than wanting to raise awarness

Dr. Deb said...

I agree, toys can be a great teaching tool, if presented with integrity and accuracy. These poke fun at illness.

Jade said...

How very disturbing. Mental health is not a game and should not be exploited.

Jenna Coaster said...

The question to ask is: Would they have done this will Physical Illnesses? Would there be a Mr. Zebra Prostate Cancer, or an AIDS-infected Ms. Hippopatamus? Would there be a game giving these toys medication? I kinda doubt it.

Big Brother said...

Not funny at all. Rather tacky really.

Kahless said...

my first reactions was that the paranoid crocodile was cute.

but your blog made me think and you are right to "call it"

Because actually it is insipid prejudicism.

Dr. Deb said...

I think the stuffed animals are cute, vibrant and adorable. That being said, it's the "way" they are depicted which concerns me. Stigma in any form -be it a big issue or a small one, or even in a joke -perpetuates myths about mental illness. This could have been a fantastic way to educate about mental illness, but it misses the mark.

I appreciate everyone's opinions and thank you all for sharing.

Patricia Singleton said...

Thanks for sharing this post. Mental illness is not a game. Once you are labeled mentally ill, it can affect you for your entire life. My sister is now going through this. She is not a label. She is a person who has value. She is not a disease.

Marj aka Thriver said...

As usual, Dr. Deb, you get us to think and you raise awareness at your blog. Thanks for sharing this with us for THE BLOG CARNIVAL AGAINST CHILD ABUSE.

Just Be Real said...

Very poor taste indeed. Thank you for sharing this info. at this time on the carnival.

Alonso Alegria said...

Totally inappropriate. I am glad we are fighting this horrible stuff.

Dr. Deb said...

Wow - NAMI Stigmabusters picked up on this thread.
Amazing the power of the internet!

http://www.nami.org/template.cfm?section=fight_stigma

Fantastic Forrest said...

This reminds me of the "Derelict" collection in Zoolander. I mean, come on, REALLY?!