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Aspies, Psychos, Stigma, and...Donuts?

Author: Anonymous (Santa Clara)
Posted: 06/18/2009 @ 10:28 pm
Aspies, Psychos, Stigma, and...Donuts?

by Dora Raymaker

category: Policy, Advocacy and Social Justice

Published June 17, 2009 @ 10:28AM PT

Back in March a new doughnut shop opened in California to the protests to the disability community.* The issue? "Psycho Donuts" has a "fun mental institution" theme, including donuts named for DSM diagnoses and a real straight jacket to try on "for fun" in a padded cell.

More recently, a critical article by Aspie Kim Hing** of the DeAnza College in Cupertino, CA was published, which not only gives a first hand account of what it's like for someone with multiple DSM diagnoses (and a keen sense of anti-discrimination policy) to be assaulted by Psycho Donuts' version of "fun" but addresses some key issues in the debate.

Many of the comments online supporting Psycho Donuts make the argument that people are being "too sensitive" or taking the situation "too seriously" and Psycho Donuts is for fun and never intended offense. That issues with mental illness and institutions should be worked out with doctors and administrators, not with doughnut shop owners.

However, these complaints don't really address the core problem that is upsetting the advocates. The core problem that there is overwhelming stigma and discrimination against people who have a DSM diagnosis, be it a mental illness or a developmental or intellectual disability. It is because of this level of culturally acceptable stigmatization that Psycho Donuts is allowed to continue what it is doing virtually unquestioned, much the same way that racial discrimination was allowed to continue virtually unquestioned in the popular films of the 1930's in the U.S. (watch some old films that include African American or Asian characters and you'll see what I mean--it's really shocking to the modern audience, although the cultural norm at the time).

Hing, whose ire was invoked by the appearance of Psycho Donuts in her film class at DeAnza, makes this point with precision,

There is a federal law, ADA, that protects those with disabilities from discrimination at school. DeAnza College is funded by the State of California. I do not expect to be publicly humiliated and to have my disability ridiculed at a school sponsored event. While this is a free country, not everything that is creative is allowed at school.

I am certain that if the owner covered a donut with black licorice and named it "Nigger", he would never have been allowed on campus.

I do not feel I should be subjected to this at school.

The core issue is discrimination and stigmatization. Not donuts.

[Ed. I've changed the picture for this post after it was pointed out to me that the selected picture was from a national chain--I had no idea; shows you how little I actually get out of my house, like, ever...Sorry!]


Author Biography

Dora Raymaker
Portland, OR

Dora is committed to improving quality of life for individuals on the autistic spectrum--including herself! She is Co-director of the Academic Autistic Spectrum Partnership in Research and Education and a member of the Autistic Self Advocacy Network's Board of Directors.


* (Original) AAPD / JFA Activist Blog post on "Psycho Donuts" --- March 31, 2009

** (Full) Statement by Kim Hing, Student at DeAnza College About Psycho Donuts' Attempt To Recruit Students To Make Films For Them

(As reposted from here: also find additional related items) --- "ANTISTIGMA HOME PAGE"

--- Editor: Jean Arnold

"Mass media is, far and away, the public's primary source of information about mental illnesses."
--- Survey of public attitudes, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

"NEWS & LINKS to Battle Bias" ---


© 2009,

Autism - Aspies, Psychos, Stigma, and...Donuts? (17 June 2009)
Author: Anonymous (Santa Clara County)
Posted: 08/04/2016 @ 2:16 am
What does Aspies mean, as used in ur article?