So, Thorpe Park have finally sent a reply to my complaint about my experience of the Asylum maze.  Rather than counteract any of the points I made to them, I got the lovely cut & paste response of their official line:

“This is primarily a matter of context. Unlike the other examples given (Tesco and Asda), the maze is not something you might happen upon when out shopping. It is set within a single closed environment and is a very small element of an event aimed at adult visitors – all of whom chose to visit, and have paid for entry to the overall event.

This maze is also in its 8th year of operation and is an obviously extreme and simulated experience which draws on classic horror film content. It is not intended, nor is it deemed to be by those who have actually experienced it, to be in any way offensive or to be a realistic portrayal of a mental health or indeed any other institution.”

There it is- the repetition of the line “nor is it deemed to be by those who have actually experienced it”. I did bloody experience it! I was shocked and offended by it, I was physically hurt in it, and felt so moved as to complain about it. It’s amazing that this line continues to be repeated despite people who “have actually experienced it” telling them to the contrary. I won’t bore you anymore with why this is all totally illogical and thoughtless as I’m sure anyone with the smallest grain of logic will be able to see that for themselves, but you’re welcome to read a Cut + Paste of my response to the nefarious demons Thorpe Park.

“I find Thorpe Park’s official position on this falling incredibly short of any sense or logic. The issue with stigmatization is not about the offence it will cause to the individual, but the stereotypes it reinforces in collective society. It is about the fact that the “dangerous mental patient” stereotype has led to people with mental illness being physically attacked (there are studies to back this up). It has led to sick people being too ashamed to seek treatment. It has led to sick people being too ashamed to confide in their loved ones. It has led, in this matter, to people’s deaths. Why on earth Thorpe Park would think that by sick people not going into it, it would counteract these issues is beyond me. I presume Thorpe Park are also aware that mental health charities are now joining in with the condemnation of the maze, therefore, the statement that people who work in mental health are alright with it, so it’s alright, is falling incredibly short. I think you will find that many in mental health, do condemn the ride. But I would also say that I would be unsurprised if others who do work in mental health think the ride is fine, because sometimes the treatment mentally ill people receive is appalling and lacks all empathy. If Thorpe Park had the most basic insight into cause and effect, stigmatization and its effects, they would surely see for themselves how wrong-headed the very concept of a ride which seeks to make fun of, and turn into a source of fear, people with mental illness is. What is worse is that the ride is not simply making fun of the mentally ill, but people with the most severe forms of mental illness, who are therefore the most vulnerable. Why do Thorpe Park seem to continually insist that fun and fear must be grounded in the stigmatization of vulnerable people?”

 

 

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