Bedlam Over Halloween

No, these are not the majority of cases, thankfully, but they are far too common to overlook (at least for me). Oh and in the case of the local hospital here and their psych ward? They don’t even do therapy.  No therapists on staff.

They prescribe medication and then discharge when the patient is stable or the insurance runs out. But that’s a whole new blog article…

So, unfortunately, in the case of psychiatric patients/clients, familiarity sometimes does in fact breed contempt. And a horrific lack of empathy.

If professionals/workers in the mental health field continue to be so ignorant and uncaring, how can we expect the general public to think and behave any other way?

And how can we even begin to humanize people with mental illnesses and developmental delays when we still watch garbage like “Constantine”, the TV show on NBC that equates mental illness with demon-possession?

Between the sensational media, Halloween shops, the appalling lack of care and decency in our own “modern” hospitals, and the mass of people turned out into the streets during the “reform” of mental hospitals in the 1960s, it seems almost inevitable that myths and fear about the mentally ill would continue to flourish.

If we, as a society, continue to demonize mentally ill or developmentally challenged people as killers, scary weirdos, or even some cross between human and demon, is it any surprise people who are experiencing symptoms refuse to go for treatment?

Who on earth wants to be stigmatized that way?

I wish people would stop asking why someone with a severe mental illness got into trouble, why he/she didn’t go for help, or why the mental health community “failed” him or her. Those are the wrong questions.

It’s not a lack of facilities – though I will argue in another post that it can be, and often is, a lack of decent care in those facilities – but an unwillingness and a fear of being seen as “that violent crazy person, that maniac killer” that often keep people from seeking help.

And these ‘psycho’ Halloween themes definitely feed right into that misconception.

Try a little empathy, instead of ignorance and fear. Don’t buy these props and costumes. Talk to people who do, or even write to the stores, and try to explain to them how they are perpetuating a very hurtful and dangerous stereotype.

I mean, a lot of these people wouldn’t think of, say, wearing blackface and dressing like a pimp on Halloween, or wearing a sombrero and carrying a taco to go trick-or-treating!  (I would hope not, anyway.)

But a ‘crazy’ person wielding a knife? Somehow that’s acceptable?

For those who think this is a big deal out of nothing, and if you are around my age (baby boomer), think back to your trick-or-treating days as a child. Do you recall anyone, ever, dressing up as a “psycho”? Or was it all ghosts, monsters, witches, and fairy tale characters?

Hey, if I wanted to be hyper-sensitive about it, I would be down on people who dress as witches, but I’m not. Because most of us pagans can stand up for ourselves.

But people who struggle with mental illness often cannot, and it is up to the rest of us to say something. Nothing will change if we don’t.

Ok now to the lighter side…your weekly para-news:

A farmer in Wales reported one of his sheep was stolen…by space aliens:

“ ‘A Spaceship Stole My Sheep’, Says Carmarthenshire Farmer” (South Wales Evening Post, 7/31/2014).

and in Colorado, “Police Investigate UFO Spotted Over Breckenridge” (9News, 10/4/2014).

I love the part where the cop is trying to show the woman where the UFO is!

My film recommendation is “The Black Cat” (1934), starring Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. Creepy film, very influential film in the horror genre, and Universal Studio’s highest grossing film that year. Has nothing to do with cats. Or Poe. But it’s good, anyway!

You can see it on the blip.tv archive site which is a site dedicated to preserving films:
Phantasmagoria Theater – “The Black Cat”

Now go get ready for those trick-or-treaters!

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