Sunday, May 15, 2022

Mugglenet - Using Fantasy Literature to Cope With Mental Illness and Addiction

I typically avoid posting other people's, other Fantasy website's, posts when possible, but this is important as it ties in with much that I have said in the past regarding the power of Fantasy literature and its potential to positively impact the real world. It led the literary charge against the cross-eyed monster that is sexism, shows worlds without human racial stereotypes, and is now among the vanguard against the blind monster that is homophobia along with all other anti-LGBTG+ sentiments. Yet, as the great J.R.R. Tolkien says, "Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisoned by the enemy, don't we consider it his duty to escape?...If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we're partisans of liberty, then it's our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!" Hence it is that selfsame escapism, as described by this (linked) article on Mugglenet, that can aid those with mental health issues: "Mental health problems and addiction often go hand-in-hand to cause a variety of difficulties. But a growing movement towards comprehensive mental health care has helped to shape this world in many ways. Some people struggling with mental health concerns and addiction can turn to fantasy literature like Harry Potter to help them overcome their issues. Here are a few reasons why this is such a powerful movement that may be the right option for you."

I highly recommend reading the rest of the piece, as it affirms not only the power of the genre but, also and naturally, another Tolkien quote: "I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which “Escape” is now so often used: a tone for which the uses of the word outside literary criticism give no warrant at all. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if, when he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls? The world outside has not become less real because the prisoner cannot see it. In using escape in this way the critics have chosen the wrong word, and, what is more, they are confusing, not always by sincere error, the Escape of the Prisoner with the Flight of the Deserter."

Is there not an argument that for the mentally ill the prison is their own minds? I am far from an expert, but if such is the case as it seems to be then it makes perfect sense that, for some, the way to escape that prison is via the most escapist of literature that is the Fantastic. The same goes with addicts, who may be inspired by the courage of the characters as they face terrors undreamt of, purest agony both mental and physical yet against all odds come out on top to find love, hope, and healing.

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