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I never thought an insane asylum halloween theme would be offensive considering everything about Halloween is exaggerated. I am planning to do a padded cell in my bathroom and dress up as an asylum patient. The decorations will be over the top and not intended to represent "normal" life but now that I have been surfing the web, I am seeing that this is apparently offensive to people with mental illness. It is not my intent to be offensive but I have over 100 people coming to this party and would like feedback on who thinks this crosses a line.
 

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Call it a horror hospital instead - crazy doctors doing amputations, a morgue, etc. much more to go at than an asylum. It doesnt bother me, but my wife works in mental health, so I am kinda immune to it. Another thing to spin it is to make it an 1800's/ early 1900's asylum. I live near the site of the largest asylum in europe at the turn of the century and what was a mental illness then is very different to now. For example, people who stole where thought to have a mental illness so could be placed in them. There were so many reasons that people could be put in an asylum and the understanding of mental health was so limited it distorts what we know today. I think thats part of the reason it is scary, we know normal people were locked up in them and faced ridiculous treatment (lobotomies, electric shock etc.) that it put the shivers in people today.

Personally, I think the danger is making it reflect an actual situation/person but that is just my opinion.
 

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Well... at least the way I see it.... especially being someone who has severe ADHD, and who is medicated and talks to a therapist weekly.... as long as you're not being CRAZY offensive about medications, real-life struggles of patients, etc, and giving guests "Xanax cocktails" or "Valium chip cookies", I wouldn't worry. Honestly, even if you did, I wouldn't be offended, but that's just me. Doctors can be intimidating and are scary. Mean nurses are scary. Homicidal patients ARE scary, regardless of affliction. Terrible treatments from the past are scary and send chills up your spine. That's Halloween. Part of the fun is not being your 100% politically correct self during this fabulous time of year. You're given free reign to laugh and honor the dark side of life... so why not?
It's almost like saying, "Well, I know someone who has experienced death, so it's not really appropriate to have a coffin, or skeletons, or ghosts". Or... "I know a Wiccan, so gallows or a prop of a witch burnt at the stake must be REALLY offensive and wrong... so I'll change my theme to accommodate society". Nuh-uh, honeybee. Do what you WANT. This is YOUR day, just as much as it's everyone else's.
If you're still worried, I would keep it vintage, dark , and give it a 50 year grace and political correctness period. Think pre-1970s, so electro-shock, straight jackets, vintage sexy/scary nurses, vintage medical instruments, etc are all fair game to me. The mental health field ain't what it used to be... what better way to forgive and forget than to have some fun with this theme on Halloween? The day when you're allowed to be your SCARY self?

Acknowledge the TRUE horrors of the past that happened in the real world of mental health during every month that isn't October... but it's Halloween time. As long as you stay away from medications, etc.... I can't see any way that someone would (or SHOULD, truly) be offended, unless they WANT to be offended. I've been to some very popular haunted houses that have carried some controversial themes such as a work-camp-esque, World War II/1950s theme, but did so tastefully... It's almost as if they are paying homage in a very strange, weird (it's HALLOWEEN) way to the horrors of the past, and reminding us of how far we've come from them. Like "Oh crap, that happened... let's never let those horrible things happen again". It's like an unconventional memorial. That's what Halloween is. Letting the darkness of life shine through for a short while, instead of stifling it away like society likes to try and make us do.

Allow yourself to HAVE FUN. :)
Happy Haunting!


*Sorry for the essay. I just hate to see people's inner demons shoved deep down inside when this is the time to let 'em rip, baby!
 

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It's likely 10% of the people in your neighborhood are offended by Halloween in general, so just acknowledging the day is probably offending someone's sensibilities. Last I heard, no one is forced to attend your event or go through your haunt, so feel free to offend at will.
 
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Yeah it's kind of a tough question for me too in general. I personally don't have an issue with it I guess, despite knowing friends and family members who have unfortunately dealt with it in one way or another. So kind of wonder how they would feel all the same. And yes there are all kinds of reasons for mental issues. Seems like drug use has played a big part more so in the recent decade.

I have a carnival planned down the road and quite honestly the side show aspect one in real life was about putting on display people and things with deformities or whatever. Much less chance due to the medical odds on some of them in this day and age to encounter someone with that affliction in their family tree but I do think people are more understanding although bullying still takes place on kids and people that are different.

My answer to this whole issue for my use is to use the Electroshock hat as a mind transfer device for my mad lab and when I do the carnival side show to do deformities in animals, like 2 headed things. I'll have a bearded woman possibly; an acrobatic act called the Zombinis, standing in a human pyramid and ready to tip over (from a CVS clearance sale one year of 2-ft zombie prop guys--too cheap to pass up and not use somehow); a tatoo guy (using the mask of the Enigma real-life guy as a prop head); maybe a snake woman. Things like that that. I'm doing this for a yard haunt not a party and we get lots of young kids in our neighborhood so that's what I take into consideration.

Have fun at your party and do come back and let us know in this thread whether you had people at your party who complained or brought the aspect up.
 

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The more cartoonish you take it the better. Just stay away from anything too 'real'. Also, never do the 'mentally retarded' kind of schtick that some haunt actors do. That can really hurt. Try to make it be more FANTASY. The further from reality the better to insulate you from people taking it personally.
Good luck!!
 

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Yeah in the U.K. THEY BANNED the fake costume straight jackets either last year or the year before because people said they were offended by the whole insane aylum/mad killer thing , my dear old gran suffered with mental illness and spent the last days of her life in a mental home , and this was in the 1970s , but it does not offend me but there are some who are offended , i didn't know in the states you were getting problems with it as well , it was all over our news and everything and of course the fake straight jacket prices went through the roof as they were removed from the stores and no one could get them , supply and demand , if you are concerned i,m with lawrie just change the name to be safe , but i thought you guys were more open minded than in the U.K. , OLD COUNTRY OLD WAYS , now i can see why you guys had the tea party lol .
 

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This will be my second year with an asylum theme - though I do push it towards older time period and fantasy with the paranormal aspect. I didn't have anyone complain last year. I would suggest you don't go the modern reality angle but also don't change your idea. This one seems to come up every year and as was mentioned you will never find a theme that is not offensive to everyone and still be "Halloween". Good luck and have fun!
 

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This will be my second year with an asylum theme - though I do push it towards older time period and fantasy
I think the older time period is definitely an aspect I'd emphasize personally. And I think if the "doctors" or whoever were "evil" so that it appears your painting EVERYONE with a twisted brush, not just targeting the mentally ill.

Poor clowns. No one cares what you say about clowns.
 

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...i thought you guys were more open minded than in the U.K. , OLD COUNTRY OLD WAYS , now i can see why you guys had the tea party lol .
Maybe at one point in time. Sad to say, America is the land of the perpetually offended, with people going out of their way to find reasons to bellyache:rolleyes:

If it is the theme that you want to go with this year, do it and do not even think twice, as that has the capacity to make you second-guess yourself and change your mind due to the quandry of how many it will wind up bothering. This is going to sound like a Three Stooges joke, but, if not by your setup, someone, somewhere, somehow will be upset by something that someone else did, guaranteed.
 

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Go for it! As long as it's not too modern or too realistic, no one should be offended. I like what Spirit Halloween did by making the patients monstrous and by victimizing the staff. It allowed the whole thing to be scary without the real element of cruelty to patients who could have had proper care. Even this year's Twitching Banshee works well in an asylum theme, because she's slightly monstrous and clearly responsible for some of the trouble. As long as the patients aren't realistic and are more responsible for the horrors than the staff, there shouldn't be a problem. Halloween's a time to have fun and revel in the strange, so realism isn't expected.
 

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Do the theme. As mentioned, there will always be someone who is offended by something. I work in the mental health field and there is a difference between being "insane" and mentally ill. Your not mocking those with mental illness, more just having fun with a theme that can create some great scares. For comparison sake, we're doing a haunted carnevil/scary clown theme. I've already had two people whom I'm acquainted with voice their displeasure with the scary clowns as "it paints them in a bad light and gives clowns a bad name." Really!? One of them is involved in a clown organization and the other had a relative in the same. I made a feeble attempt to explain our intent but in the end just told them no offense was meant and that they probably shouldn't come by if they'll be offended. Half expecting to picketed by a bunch of clowns on Halloween night!!
 
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