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Saturday, March 11, 2006

Churchill in a straitjacket?

So Rethink, a mental health charity, have a statue of Churchill in a straitjacket to demonstrate that he had depression, a "mental health problem". Besides a cheap publicity stunt there is something in raising awareness of the problems people like Churchill overcame. To try to do that through symbolism like this, however, just leaves a very sour taste in my mouth, not least because the statue appears lifelike and I'm all but certain Churchill never actually came near a straitjacket.

Allen Packwood of the Churchill Archives in Cambridge hits the nail on the head: "What I would question is whether his depression was ever really a straitjacket for him." Well, quite.

UPDATED 14:27
BBC is now reporting, as pointed out to me, that Churchill apparently said himself that he was once in a straitjacket for his depression, although I would be intrigued to know what the source for this is.

Some background on the statue, which is now in the limelight of Norwich. It was originally proposed for Trafalgar Square back in September 2004, but the GLA boycotted the plan, before which Rethink began to tour it round London with a sash attacking prejudice against the mentally ill. It sounds to me like they have a bit of a thing about it, rather than just using it as a powerful piece of art. Although mental illness is a difficult subject and we ought to tackle prejudice based around it, I have to say that depicting it as so inherently connected with a straitjacket is in my book pretty counterproductive. Surely that stereotypical image is exactly what the charity should want to move away from?

3 Comments:

At 1:48 pm, Anonymous jennie said...

actually, BBC news say he was in contact with a straight jacket while suffering from depression

 
At 2:26 pm, Blogger Edward said...

You're quite right. I may very well be wrong then, but I'd be interested to know what their source is.

 
At 2:26 pm, Anonymous Peter said...

I agree with you. It doesn't help their cause - it's just a fairly tasteless way of garnering publicity.

 

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