Thursday 9 September 2010


News that a German toy-maker has produced a range of animals with mental illnesses (see this link). Patients include Dub the turtle with severe depression, Sly the snake who suffers from hallucinations, Dolly the sheep with a personality disorder and a crocodile which has an irrational fear of water. Though this enterprise is of doubtful good taste and I can't quite fathom the intentions of the creators I note that each toy is supplied with their own medical history, referral letter and treament plan - a better start than many real patients get though if they come out in Wales we will have to see that they get a proper, holistic care and treatment plan under the new Mental Health Measure.

This news raises the question of humour and mental illness which remains a very difficult subject. Most jokes at the expense of people with a mental illness fall into the same category as racist or similar nastiness (though that has not yet been taken on board by mainstream media) but there is of course much sharp and sometimes hilarious humour expressed by people with a mental illness (much of which would shock the sensitive among you) which I hear routinely in our services and you cannot really disapprove of. On the contrary there must be room to counter nasty jokes with funnier ones which may be edgy and uncomfortable but don't have the intention or effect of causing prejudice.