The Real Monsters
September 20, 2013 8:15 AM   Subscribe

Artist Toby Allen has created fantastic faces for monsters which many are all too familiar with: Anxiety, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, Paranoia, Dissociative Identity Disorder, And Social Anxiety. [via]
posted by quin (18 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
These are amazing! As someone who works getting people disability, often for mental illness-related issues, I want a few of these to put up in my office.

...and as someone with mental illnesses, I want a few of these to put up in my home.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:22 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


These are fantastic, amazing illustrations that I love. My first response is "wow, these should be in a book" but would probably make for an awkward coffee table book to have laying around your house.
posted by mathowie at 8:27 AM on September 20, 2013


Thank you for posting this.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2013


These would be great for showing kids and helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness.
posted by Pomo at 8:29 AM on September 20, 2013 [4 favorites]


One technique in ACT therapy is to hear the anxious thoughts in your head in a voice that isn't your own...for example, a cartoon character's. "Am I having a heart attack?" feels a lot different in your head, if it's being voiced by Donald Duck, say. Harder to take seriously, harder to build into a full-scale panic attack.

These creatures are PERFECT for visualizing that. I am so glad you posted it.
posted by mittens at 8:32 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Neat! Great drawings; I hope he does bipolar and PTSD as well.
posted by Mister_A at 8:39 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Pokémon. Gotta catch 'em all!
posted by hot_monster at 8:49 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Thanks for posting this!
posted by carter at 8:50 AM on September 20, 2013


I don't know. My initial reaction is that this is still sort of stigmatizing. On one hand I understand the premise and it is well-intentioned enough and fantastic because we want to be able to separate illness from the sufferer and I am all for discussing mental illness through art and various interpretations in order to increase awareness and understanding and YES ALWAYS PLEASE. So this is not me being a negative nelly or saying we can't ever discuss such things.

On the other, in reality, WE DON'T separate the sufferer from the illness in most relationships. We really don't. We become hurt by said behaviors and associate behaviors with identity no matter how educated we are about the illness (at least, with personality disorders, which are super tricky). So comparing illnesses to "monsters" is still skirting the edge of stigmatizing, even if it seems innocent enough.

It's not as bad as "DARTH VADER HAD BPD DURP" but still...we need to understand the risky nature of associations.
posted by Young Kullervo at 9:18 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


These would be great for showing kids and helping to reduce the stigma of mental illness.

I thought the anxiety one was nicely done and that my 9-year-old who is in treatment for anxiety might appreciate it.

I had a very hard time processing the images of most of them though. I couldn't figure out what the body shape was supposed to be, whether the monster was facing me or facing away, where its face was, if any. So most of them looked less like monsters to me than like amophrous nicely-drawn blobs of color.
posted by not that girl at 9:43 AM on September 20, 2013


yeah, it seems to me more like the monsters are the person with the disorder, which I know isn't the intent. Like for the BPD one, it's like, "this is what people with BPD will do to you, person without BPD." Maybe that's just because that's the way a lot of people talk about that particular illness.

The drawings are cool and I understand the intent, but if I just encountered these in my therapist's office or something I'd be a little bewildered.
posted by sweetkid at 10:11 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


So comparing illnesses to "monsters" is still skirting the edge of stigmatizing, even if it seems innocent enough.

I don't know...I'm painfully aware of the stigma, which is why I don't talk about my various disorders anymore outside of some very safe channels ("Hey, you were hospitalized too! Now we can be friends!"), and I think this is actually really, really okay. These diseases really are monsters; they are huge and scary, they don't respond to treatment in any reliable way, they destroy your life...and even when they're not destroying things, they remain your faithful companion for ages. I think the drawings here could actually function to reduce that terror-of-mental-illness a bit. Get things back to the "black dog" level rather than the "gaping toothy maw that threatens to flense flesh from bone" one.
posted by mittens at 10:32 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]



Shades of Paul Coker's "Horrifying Clichés" work in MAD.
 
posted by Herodios at 10:59 AM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


yeah, it seems to me more like the monsters are the person with the disorder, which I know isn't the intent. Like for the BPD one, it's like, "this is what people with BPD will do to you, person without BPD." Maybe that's just because that's the way a lot of people talk about that particular illness.

I agree - especially for the BPD one, whose description calls it "sinister". It's already almost reflexive for people - even here on Metafilter - to call BPD sufferers evil. This felt like more of the same to me.
posted by talitha_kumi at 11:07 AM on September 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


Get things back to the "black dog" level
I don't know the Black Dog's name; when I call him he don't come
How did I get this Black Dog, Lord? I never wanted one!

The Black Dog don't believe in sin
Think of where the Black Dog's been
Think of where he's been today

-- Jesse Winchester
posted by Herodios at 11:14 AM on September 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda undecided as to whether this is stigmatizing or celebratory. Anyway, NAMI has a page where you can read about and join efforts to de-stigmatize mental illnesses, so I wanted to throw that into this thread.
posted by not_on_display at 11:25 AM on September 20, 2013


These are beautiful designs and art. I don't know if most of them quite work for me conceptually, though, because they're discrete creatures, even cute ones -- mammalian or reptilian. I envision my anxiety disorder as a kind of fungal colony with tendrils and spores throughout the skin, pulsating fruiting bodies in the skull and gut. There is no destroying it without crude powerful medications that destroy everything else in the body.

But, you know, that's just me. Also, I do quite like the BPD drawing, because it is a beautiful creature, which is fitting for a number of unpleasant reasons.
posted by Countess Elena at 3:34 PM on September 20, 2013 [3 favorites]


Prints are now available.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:08 AM on September 23, 2013


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