Society

Company Pulls Controversial 'Psych Ward' Halloween Costumes

| by Amanda Andrade-Rhoades

Though it’s not quite October, there’s no shortage of questionable costumes available already.

Recently, a blood-spattered set of scrubs emblazoned with the words “Dorothea Dix Psych Ward,” raised eyebrows among mental health advocates. It has since been pulled form shelves.

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Dorothea Dix Hospital, named for the pioneering woman who advocated for mental healthcare reforms for the poor, was a psychiatric treatment center in Raleigh, North Carolina. Although it closed its doors in 2012, the hospital served thousands of patients after opening in 1865.

Jack Register, executive director of National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) North Carolina, believes the costume is harmful.

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"It makes people who have mental illness look like criminals," he told WTVD.

Register explained that the costume, which was on sale at Halloween Alley stores, was personal for him. 

"I have family members that have been to Dorthea Dix, so for me that is like a punch in the gut," he said. "We wouldn't be displaying what breast cancer looks like in a Halloween costume."

Eli Brightbill, a spokesperson for Floretta Imports, the company that ran the store, said he was surprised by the huge backlash.

"It was definitely not our intention to offend anyone," he told WTVD. "There are many things that we sell that can be portrayed as offensive to one group or another. So, did I expect someone to be possibly offended? Yes. Did I expect there to be as big of an outcry as there was? No."

After mental health advocates threatened to protest, Floretta pulled the costumes on Sept. 24. 

Register, for one, is happy the costumes are gone.

"I like Halloween just like everybody else does, but we can do it with pumpkins and ghosts and not trivialize the experience of real people," he said.

Sources: WRAL, WTVD / Photo Credit: Screenshot via WTVD