Are You Mad?

By Kerri Romeo

‘But I don’t want to go among mad people,’ Alice Remarked.

‘Oh, you can’t help that,’ said the Cat: ‘we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.’

‘How do you know I’m mad?’ said Alice.

‘You must be,’ said the Cat, ‘or you wouldn’t have come here.’

Alice in Wonderland, Chapter VI

When you think of madness what comes to mind?  Most would agree we are living in a mad world.  We just disagree about the how, the why and the who has caused all the dysfunction in our society.  Too often the finger is pointed in another direction, denying our own participation in and contribution to the madness.  But is there such a thing as positive madness?  If there were, would you choose to participate?

‘In that direction,’ the Cat said, waving its right paw round, `lives a Hatter: and in that direction,’ waving the other paw, `lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.’ 

Alice in Wonderland

As the Cheshire Cat suggests, the Hatter, the March Hare, Alice (and really everyone in Wonderland) would all be considered mad.  Each in their own way.

Modern analysts often attribute some form of mental illness to each of the characters (and the author) in Wonderland.  We are a society that continues to stigmatize mental illness and at the same time wants to diagnose and label everyone (even characters from a fantastical story written over 150 years ago) with some type of disorder.  

The most popular mischaracterized character is the Hatter.  Most of us know him as the “Mad Hatter” despite the fact that was not actually his name in the story.  (Non-factual information becomes so ingrained within us that we don’t even notice it is false as it is passed down from generation to generation)  So…is the Hatter based on the mentally ill hat maker (caused by mercury poisoning in an industry that ignored the early signs of the dangers of exposure) or was the author’s muse an outlandish furniture dealer who always wore a big hat?  As your perception of the character changes does the story change for you?  Would it change if this was a person in your life?  

What is the March Hare’s “madness”?  March is a common month for bunnies to bring out their wild side.  Is this madness or is it their natural behavior?  Overall as a society we have a tendency to deny our own natural instincts, including our emotions.  Society doesn’t encourage feelings:  Sadness is weakness;  Anger is uncivilized (especially if you are black or a woman);  And don’t be too happy or you might just be called crazy. 

Walk around with low-grade emotion and you are acceptable to society.  But as we continue to suppress our emotions they find a way to be expressed, often in unhealthy ways (ie – depression, rage, anxiety and addiction). 

And then there is Alice.   Is a curious child mentally ill?  Is a headstrong female mentally ill?  How often is a child “treated” with medication for a diagnosed mental disorder when he/she is simply being a child?  How often is a girl or woman told to “calm down”?  How often are you called a radical if you speak out against the mainstream? Alice is a rebel in a blue dress. 

So maybe the Hatter, the March Hare and Alice aren’t mentally ill after all.  That doesn’t mean mental illness doesn’t exist.  What is the cause of mental illness?  Is it a reaction to stress, trauma or difficult life circumstances?  Is it a chemical imbalance?  A hormonal imbalance? Is that imbalance caused by genetics? Is it caused by the chemicals in the air (like the hatmakers) and in our food and water supply? Can there be more than one cause?  Can there be more than one treatment?  If one cause or solution is true, another doesn’t need to be false.  Can we say that overprescribing medication is a problem without also acknowledging that people have found relief in medication? Can both be true?       

What would happen if we understood that normalizing corruption is the true madness?  What would happen if we celebrated a positive form of madness as passion for a cause and mad love for improving the lives of all people?  What would happen if we were outlandish, wild and curious?    

You are invited to our Mad Tea Party next time.  Won’t you join us?

Victoria Lynn Hall asks Dr. Cindy Nye if everyone needs a therapist over on the Amplifire Project You Tube channel in “Talking About Our Emotions with Dr. Cindy Nye”.   Have you subscribed?

In “Teaching Hope” Special Education Teacher, Lori Evangelisto shares changes to the curriculum that are needed today, that includes compassion and emotional intelligence.

There are many different ways to treat anxiety.  Lori Michaels demonstrates an EFT session with Victoria.

Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others. She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.

Published by Kerri

Kerri is an advocate for the introverted activist. Often at a loss for words in person, she writes to make sense of the world and connect with others . She wishes for more curiosity & kindness in the world.

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