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NAMI StigmaBuster Alert: April 3, 2008


Lunatic Asylum: A Popular Attraction?

Last summer, Joe Jordan, an asbestos demolition contractor, bought the Weston Hospital in West Virginia, which is registered as a national historic landmark.

He has renamed it the "Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum," which was its name in another era. Constructed in 1864 as a psychiatric hospital, it housed more than 2,000 patients at its peak. It was closed in 1994.

The Associated Press (AP) has reported that Jordan is trying to revive the property by offering tours and other "attractions." The planned attractions include a " Hospital of Horrors" at Halloween season, a "Nightmare Before Christmas" tour, and well as "Psycho Path" dirt bike races on the 307 acre complex.

StigmaBusters are outraged that the stigmatizing name has been resurrected and that the hospital, where many people once suffered, will be used as the setting for entertainment, featuring violent stereotypes and disparaging language

Please contact Joe Jordan and tell him to change the name and abandon the insensitive, stigmatizing attractions. Include the following points:

  • The US Surgeon General has denounced stigma, including inaccurate violent stereotypes and trivialization of mental illness, as contributing to barriers that discourages people from getting help when they need it.
  • "Lunatic" is an obsolete, stigmatizing, offensive term—just like racial and ethnic slurs that once were used in the past. "Pyscho" also is insulting and further perpetuates stigma, along with themes like "Halloween of Horrors." Entertainment attractions are inappropriate for historic buildings of this nature.

Joe Jordan
Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum
71 Asylum Drive
Weston, WV 26452
Phone: 304-269-5070
Fax: 304-269-5071

Depression Stories Wanted

A national documentary series is looking for individuals willing to share personal stories about living with unipolar depression. Persons selected will be interviewed on camera, helping to distinguish clinical depression from everyday feelings of sadness, and reflecting on treatment and recovery.

If interested, please send NAMI a few paragraphs (400 word limit) about your personal experience. Include name, age, location, and contact information. Basic questions to address include:

  • What were your key experiences with major depression?
  • What role has treatment played?
  • What advice would you give others?

NAMI will not share names or contact information with the media without first contacting you for specific consent. We also cannot guarantee selection for an interview, but all responses will be considered. Send stories to Christine Armstrong at

Fight for Parity

Both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have passed legislation to end stigma and discrimination in mental health insurance coverage. But differences still need to be worked out. Send a message to your Members of Congress telling them to enact a parity law now. No more gridlock!

Out of the Inbox

Because of the large number of StigmaBuster emails received each month, not every one can be answered individually, however, we appreciate every message and do evaluate every stigma report, prioritizing them for action. We also appreciate receiving copies of responses. They are important in helping to coordinate strategy and pursue genuine dialogue. You are our eyes and ears! Your help makes a difference! Send reports of stigma to Stella March:

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