Should seizure warnings go graphic?

The Simpsons have grand mal seizures watching TV--a reference to the 1997 Pokemon cartoon incident in Japan.

The recently unveiled graphic warnings mandated for cigarette ads and packaging lead us all to wonder about their effectiveness. They’ll certainly be a lot harder to ignore than the existing text-only warnings. Whether their grim message affects addictive behavior is another matter.

I’ve noted already that video game manufacturers’ printed warnings about the risk of seizures are useless because they’re ignored or dismissed. Would incorporating scary graphics in the seizure warnings be more effective?

On the one hand, pictures of a tonic-clonic (grand mal) seizure would capture more attention from consumers. On the other, that image would probably do more harm than good.

  • Most seizures aren’t grand mal and don’t look like them. Depicting that image would promote the common misperception that grand mal defines what a seizure is. People who have seizures don’t want the stereotype reinforced.
  • Consumers who pay attention to the warning will keep the image in mind, identify seizures as being grand mal only, and are likely to overlook the symptoms of other types of seizures.

Picturing anything other than a grand mal would be tough, though, because symptoms can vary so much and would be difficult to convey in an image:  someone staring into space, smacking their lips, feeling weird sensations in their limbs or stomach, or becoming incontinent.

What do you think? Would people pay closer attention to the seizure warnings, and would that be worth the trade-offs?

One Comment on “Should seizure warnings go graphic?”

  1. Hope says:

    Raise Awareness about Epilepsy, and create a warning system (for movies) for those who have Photosensitive Epilepsy

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