Psycho Donuts Opens, Attracts National Attention

May 17th, 2009 by John Vink

Psycho Donuts has opened at 2006 South Winchester Boulevard at the corner of South Winchester Boulevard and Campbell Avenue, just outside downtown Campbell.

Psycho Donuts in Campbell

Psycho Donuts in Campbell

The donut shop’s theme is crazy donuts. They have donuts with names ranging from Green Tea Donut and FungShui to Split Personality and Bipolar to Major Head Trauma and Cereal Killer. The walls are adorned with artwork by local artists available for sale showing donuts being crazy. Customers are offered bubble wrap when they come in, and they can have their photos taken in a padded cell. Staff wear lab coats and nurse’s uniforms.

Co-owner Jordan Zweigoron in a lab coat with an employee in a nurse's uniform

Co-owner Jordan Zweigoron in a lab coat with an employee in a nurse's uniform

Co-owner Jordan Sweigoron tells South Winchester News that business has been great since the opening on February 28. Some mornings there is a line of customers around the building when the shop opens.

While the owners had intended the theme to be light hearted and fun, it has struck a wrong nerve for some people for whom mental illness hits close to home. Mental Health advocates have been protesting outside the donut shop, and giving out “Stigma-Free Donuts”.

John Forward, whose son suffers from mental illness, says ” I wanted to go in the first time I was over here, but I couldn’t get past the sign on the window that had the picture of the big needle, somebody getting injected, and the nurses and the straightjacket. I remember when my son was in 5 point restraints in the hospital and they were shooting him with up with a drug to calm him down. It was a horrible nightmare, and to see that demonstrated as their calling card, it made me sick. I couldn’t even go inside.”

Protestor John Forward with a sign

Protestor John Forward with a sign

Hope Holland with the Santa Clara Department of Mental Health, who suffers with bipolar disorder, works to raise awareness and fight stigma discrimination. Holland tells the South Winchester News, “The challenges that society presents are harder to manage than anything that the mental illness itself presents. I’ve caused a lot of pain to myself and to others around me by having untreated mental illness and by not acknowledging the problem. Part of the reason why I didn’t acknowledge the problem for so long and go get help was because of the stigma connected to it. ”

The protests by Mental Health advocates has given the small donut shop significant exposure. Local television news, news outlets from Florida to Minnesota, and hundreds of Internet blog posts have been writing about Psycho Donuts. Sweigoron admits that the exposure has helped bring in more traffic to the shop, but wishes the exposure was for positive reasons.

Sweigoron says he wanted to open a donut shop that was unique, and points out that it’s the donuts that are crazy and not the people. “It’s Psycho Donuts, not Psycho People”.

One customer who had suffered from severe depression with suicidal thoughts had a different take on it. “I do understand why some are bothered by the “Psycho” theme but I can’t help but wonder if introducing mainstream America to mental disorders in this way creates an opportunity to remove the negative stigma related to mental illness, not reinforce it. I think the donut names create a positive opportunity for dialogue. That said I do think the straight jacket and padded cell go over the line. They should expand the “group therapy” area and provide more seating instead.”

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2 Responses to “Psycho Donuts Opens, Attracts National Attention”

  1. John Forward says:

    Jon,

    Good article. I have an interesting interview with Kipp Berdiansky who spoke privately with Brian Miller of NAMI Santa Clara, if you’re interested.

  2. DRH says:

    Ironically, I would have never noticed Psycho Donuts if it hadn’t become a National story…. even though I only live a 10-minute walk away. My mom down in LA asked me if I’d heard of the place … so I HAD to check it out.

    Now, I’m a semi-regular customer ;)

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