Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Stigma Free Halloween

Halloween is one of the oldest recorded observances.

The tradition started over two thousand years ago with The Celts, who believed that the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on October 31st. So, on that "Hallow's Eve" they built bonfires and wore ghostly costumes to drive the evil spirits away, and carried a potato or turnip candle lantern to intimidate the demons around them.

The National Alliance For Mental Illness reminds us that not only is it the season for ghosts and goblins, but also stigma. Costumes and seasonal attractions that feature psychos, mental patients, and insane asylums perpetuate stereotypes. Intended as fun, these violent stereotypes serve to perpetuate stigma -- which as reported by the U.S. Surgeon General is one of the greatest barriers to people getting help when they need it. It also is the source of prejudice and discrimination that leads to isolation and impedes progress toward recovery.

Hope your Halloween is stigma free.


Slightly Unbalanced said...

Thanks for bringing this up. It also reminds me of those souvenir t-shirts from Alcatraz that read "psych ward inmate" on them. Stigmas all too often produce a false identity to anyone with a mental illness... even the terms "mental illness" and "mental disorder" are damaging. I'm also starting to draw the parallel with the LBGT community... we need not just tolerance, but acceptance as well.

Wanda's Wings said...

Yes even now there is such a stigma on anyone with mental illness. I have lived with this all my life. It eventually a cost me my job. That of course wasn't the reason used. "downsizing" was the official reason. It was a real shame because my job had always given me such self esteem. I always had great reviews, but the doctors I worked for did not want a bipolar office manager.

Raine said...

Have a good halloween

Xmichra said...

i am on the fence with this one as well, primarily because the observance has become so commercial that it doesn't really mirror anything that is truth.

You can't have a stigma free halloween. Even going beyond that of mental illness awareness, Witches are not green faced and wart ridden women in black who ride brooms. Transvestites are not only cool on halloween. even the play on words wih the word 'Fairy' in the gay community has it's sighting.

I think, for me and my family, we perpetuate the fun and the imagination side of the halloween deal. Trying to pick out all the stigma, is somewhat like picking out a needle in a hay stack on this particular event.

Awake In Rochester said...


Have a Happy Halloween!

Maybe I'll dress up as a lesbian. Te he!

Anonymous said...

Great points, Deb. I've read some other enlightening pieces about cultural/identity misappropriation via costumes.

This one especially gave me food for thought: My body is not your Halloween costume (

Sikarwar.Rajiv said...

Thanks for your contribution .This blog is very informative to mental health

Lilly said...

Hallowen step and now we need to talk again on issues of health care, which is a subject which this blog is visited, as many people here looking for peace and quiet to read their articles and the positive comments.