Thorpe Park: Royal College of Psychiatrists’ open letter

If you’ve been following the Thorpe Park ‘Asylum’ debacle, this open letter from the Royal College of Psychiatrists may help illuminate the problem. Thorpe Park has, all along, been asked to change, not to close, its ill-advised attraction; so far with no response other than bland platitudes. One hopes this latest reasoned request will finally get through to them.

For catch-up, much of the debate can be found here where onward links further fill out the debate. The twitter thread, #AsylumNO, has attracted considerable support and inevitably its detractors. Some of these I have found to be reasonable people who, after many exchanges, have become less entrenched in their view that Thorpe Park’s portrayal of ‘mental patients’ may not be harmful. Some though, have been quite astonishing in their capacity to extrapolate beyond the ridiculous, and others have been hateful, offensive, unreasoned attackers. I personally had several exchanges with a person who eventually claimed to be the designer of the ‘rape fantasy experience’ at The Scare Kingdom Scream Park in LancashireHe told me that the Daily Mail had mis-reported, something I am disposed to accept, and said they had many complimentary comments. I asked him to tell me what the experience really was and to point me towards those comments, so that I could pass this along – I’m no more interested in unjustified entertainment-bashing than I am in letting truly horrific and harmful material go by unchallenged – but he chose instead to revert to attacking the objectors.

The RCP open letter is the most recent, and arguably the most high profile, response to Thorpe Park, and one hopes the company will finally be listening.

Supporters of  the ‘Asylum’ maze argue that it is ‘only a few’ who do not see it as fantasy. Mental illness is largely invisible, with people often feeling too stigmatised to talk openly about it. But it affects one in four of us, so maybe it’s only a few till it’s you.

Thorpe Park: the tricky wiki bit they removed

I should have taken a screenshot but I intended to post this clip so I copied it for pasting. The last sentence of the first paragraph along with a summarising link, has been removed [2 below which now points elsewhere]. See Halloween: What’s wrong with evoking the “scary mental patient” stereotype? for an update.

Thorpe Park is a theme park in ChertseySurrey, England, UK. After demolition of the Thorpe Park Estate in the 1930s, the site became a gravel pit. Thorpe Park was built in 1979 on the gravel pit which was partially flooded, creating a water-based theme for the park. The park’s first large roller coasterColossus, was added in 2002. Merlin Entertainments own and operate the park. In 2012 the park received 1.8m visitors, down from 2.0m visitors in 2011.[1] In 2013 Thorpe Park attracted a wave of negative criticism from mental health campaigners for its ‘Asylum’ attraction, which appears to depict people with mental illness as frightening and out of control, reinforcing negative stereotypes around mental health.[2]