‘Finding out what lies beyond the borders of the Shire’: Applying Tolkien’s fantastic texts in and to madness — the transgressive experience of psychotic thinking
— Alke Haarsma-Wisselink, independent scholar
Paper given 6 July 2022 at IMC 2022 Session 1133
In The Hobbit, Gandalf plucks Bilbo from his comfortable armchair, sending a bunch of unruly dwarfs to knock on his door. At first, Bilbo tries to hold them off, but waking up the next day feeling their absence: he runs! Positively rushes! Breaks out! In leaving the Shire, his fellow citizens shake their heads. Bilbo reaches a certain ‘point of no return’. This is reminiscent of the call of madness, and we could apply Bilbo-crossing-the-border to the lived experience in psychosis. In psychiatry the preferred stable ‘armchair’ state of the soul is called euthymia, and transgressing to mental modes of mania and madness — losing oneself in delusions: wild associative thinking, and hallucinations: sensing things non-common-sensical — is considered dis-ordered. As a cultural scientist and an ‘expert by experience’ in psychosis, combining inside and outside perspectives, I propose: let us share in an adventure and explore the common domain of Madness and Faërie, the perilous realm of Fairy-Story.