Bloody Dorothea Dix Halloween costume stirs controversy

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Some Raleigh residents are furious about a Halloween costume depicting a Dorothea Dix patient uniform splattered with blood.

The stores selling the costumes have reacted to that anger by pulling the costumes from their shelves.

But WNCN did some digging and discovered the stores are still selling the controversial disguise.

The costume is a shirt and pants with what’s supposed to look like blood on them.

The back of the shirt says “Dorothea Dix Psych Ward.”

Many we spoke to says not only it is in bad taste, it just hits too close to home.

“It’s just bad I think,” said Rachel Briggs.

We’ve all seen our share of distasteful Halloween costumes, but shopper after shopper we showed the gory guise to said it was just wrong.

“I know during Halloween a lot of offensive costumes come out and you kind of have to accept that a little bit. But personally I don’t think it’s very appropriate,” said Bella Anderson.

The Dorothea Dix psych ward costume sold at three Halloween Alley stores around the Triangle. It fits right in with a imprisonment section that also includes a Raleigh Central Prison uniform and a strait jacket.

“We don’t like people wearing these stigmatizing costumes,” said Ann Akland with Advocacy Chair for NAMI NC of Wake County.

The Dorothea Dix Hospital in Raleigh closed in 2012.

Akland says recovered patients still live in the area.

“To encounter such a negative force doesn’t do anything for their mental health, or for people wanting to include them in the community to reintegrate them into the community,” said Akland.

That’s why she and others have been calling and visiting Halloween Alley stores to get the costumes pulled.

She said one store owner promised her they’re gone.

A second store also said the costume was off the shelves but it was still able to be purchased upon request.

Akland will keep pushing until the costumes aren’t for sale because she says mental health shouldn’t be a punch line.

“Do you see any costumes that make fun of people who have cancer? You know that’s a biological illness just like mental illness. It’s an illness and it’s not right,” said Akland.

Akland also said costumes like the Dorothea Dix one imply that people with mental health issues are dangerous, which just feeds into the stereotypes she says already exist.

WNCN did reach out to a another store owner but did not hear back.

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