The concept of Utopia was originally used by Plato in the 4th century B. C. referring to a perfect place and society in his book ‘The Republic’. Over the years, many different scholars and philosophers used the word Utopia. Utopia was picked up by fiction writers to describe a place an author makes the traveller go to, which is perfect and faultless. As many people started writing and thinking about a perfect society, the opposite of such a society also came under consideration and people categorised Utopia in to two; positive and negative Utopia. Negative Utopia is also called Dystopia. The actual word Utopia comes from two Greek words, ‘ou’ and ‘topos’ which mean “no place”.
Perfect Utopia would be a place with a perfect socio-political-legal system. This term is used both in literary fiction, where it refers to a heavenly like place loved to be inhabited by everyone and it also is used to describe people that deliberately come together and try to establish perfect communities in the actual world. An example of a perfect Utopia described in the literary fiction world would be; the colourful and vibrant world of chocolates and candies that was painted in words by Roald Dahl in his book ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory.’ In the book, the chocolate factory and the magical, mysterious world that it hides from the outer world, is a dream come true for Charlie Bucket, the protagonist. The little kid is fascinated by the world and describes it as being perfect and a place he can live in forever. However, towards the end of the book he gets tired of living in his perfect world and wants to return outside.
Similarly, in the book The Lorax by Dr. Seuss, the author paints a supposed perfect world, but it actually is a Dystopia, because the people are deprived of their basic rights; basic rights like living free, breathing natural free air and not being controlled by a daily monotonous routine dictated by a Hitler like figure. The people are brainwashed to think that their lives are perfect, that living in a walled city is amazing and that leaving the city would bring them harm. Eventually, there is a character in the book that dares to dream big and think differently from the whole society and wants to escape from the life they are living. The character influences another character and together they convince people that the lives they are living aren’t perfect after all. The peoples’ perfect world is actually far from perfect and the author Dr. Seuss paints a grotesque image of the society in which the people are captured and held hostage without them knowing it.
In both situations, negative and positive Utopia; in both the separate pieces of literary fiction, people eventually got tired of their monotonous routines and wanted to do something different. They wanted to live their lives their own way and have the freedom to do that. Even though in the ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’, the factory had what every and any kid could ever dream of, the protagonist eventually got tired of everything perfect and having ‘only’ candies and chocolates to eat and ‘oompa loompas’ to speak to, with no contact with the outside world. Similarly, in The Lorax, the main character wanted to breathe natural air and have actual trees, rather than live in a plastic walled city, with plastic trees. She gets tired of the so called perfect life.
Both novels talk about Utopias and a Utopia genre disengages the reader from reality. Why would someone want to write about something which isn’t the reality? Why would Roald Dahl write about a chocolate factory which has every good tasting candy on the planet and have chocolates that you can eat forever and a factory which is so marvellous, that it actually is a whole world in itself, hidden from the outside main world? That is because; something like this is really appealing to a lot many of us. It is a delusional world, which we escape in to, when we read about Utopias. We start to imagine us in such a world and wonder what would happen if our lives were such. Mostly, all fiction is the same; it helps us imagine us in the novel, book or literary piece of fiction, but what differentiates the genre of Utopia from others is that, it takes us in to a supposed perfect world and is an almost escape from reality, which gets disrupted, as the last page of the book is flipped.
If we translate the concept of a Utopia and why we read about such things in novels etc, to real life situations and apply the concepts of cognition and human mind behaviour; we can understand that Utopia provides an escape and that ‘happiness’ or extreme forms of it, is actually a Psychological Utopia that the person forms in their mind. Defining Psychological Utopia in few words is hard and cannot be done. It needs to be explained. People, mostly delusional people form this bubble in their minds, in which they live, and they don’t break for anyone. They are mostly extremely happy or extremely sad and frustrated from their life, and keep thinking that everything is okay, or they continue on with their life as it is, even though they need to do something about it. They live a monotonous routine in most cases and are pretty emotionless. These people are delusional, because they keep living their lives as they are whether they are extremely happy and things are good, or whether they are extremely disturbed and things are bad, but they don’t do anything about it. This is why they are delusional. They live in their own little world, cut off from reality, things and people around them.
Mostly, people who are not bothered about things, or people who say they don’t care, are the ones who have formed a Utopia in their minds and are living that way too. This is the dangerous form of a Psychological Utopia; when they are so not bothered, that they won’t do things to change something bad in their lives, which can cause them harm later on. They also become emotionless, which isn’t good either. Such people are hard to converse with, they are hard to reach out to, because of their so called bubble that they have built and are living in, in their minds. Their lives become a living example of a Dystopia. People with negative built Utopia have a rigid monotonous routine, absolutely none or very less social contact, a pretty emotionless personality and a habit of constant complaining; but they do nothing about their problems. They continue to live them each day and so forth, until one day the bubble bursts and reality comes forward in front of their eyes. Then they realise everything and try to rectify it. In most cases it is too late, but in some cases, these kinds of people still are able to sort out their lives.
A simple example of such a Utopia being built in a person’s mind would be someone who gets bullied each and every day at school, but does nothing to rectify the problem. The individual builds a bubble in their mind, they keep thinking that everything is okay, when it isn’t, they don’t report bullying to the authorities or their parents, get bullied every day and continue on with their life and this behaviour; until their bubble is burst and they realise their life isn’t perfect and that they have to do something about it. Then they want to and try to get rid of the bullying and stop the bullies from displaying discriminatory behaviour towards them. The good thing is that they come out of their shell/bubble and do something about it; the bad thing is that because of this state of Utopia that they had been living in, they had to endure such discriminatory behaviour for a long time, in most cases.
Some people would also be in a state of Utopia and be extremely happy. They would not bother or think about things that could be harmful to them, or things in their life that could need changing. They are happy living the life they have, day in and day out, happy with the same monotonous routine. They are so happy with their lives, to the point it becomes dangerous and they become delusional. They start to really lose touch with reality and do not bother about what is going on in the world. They only care about their lives and in some cases, the lives of the people that they are immediately surrounded with; for example, their close family members. These kinds of people go on with their lives, without feeling the need to know about what’s going on in the world, or without feeling the need of outside world interaction. They are way too happy with the way the things are, that they go adrift. They don’t deem fit, interaction with anyone, because they are happy with themselves/being alone, they are happy in their own little world and being unavailable. These kinds of people are hard to reach out to as well, because they hardly allow anyone in to their lives. They think any interference from outside interaction would interrupt their so called life and ruin it.
People usually talk about them building walls around their heart and not allowing anyone in. What they actually mean is that they build a bubble around themselves and are in a state of Utopia. These kinds of people are at a disadvantage because many a times, they realise later, when their bubble has burst, that they have caused themselves greater harm; the very harm they built the bubble to protect themselves from. These kinds of people become emotionally unavailable, are hard to reach out to, they don’t reciprocate or give anyone attention and to harshly put it, most of the times simply don’t care. If you have been able to reach out to someone in a state of Utopia, consider yourself lucky. It also means that their bubble is expanding and one day could burst. One day they will realise that they lost someone who loved them so much, was trying to reach out to them, but they were emotionally unavailable, barely reciprocated their care and feelings, and just wanted to be left alone to live their so called perfect life. This is just an example of many examples and situations, which could happen after the person has had their bubble burst by someone or by some incident and then them realising what they missed out on.
Even though it might seem that being in a psychological state of a Utopia only has disadvantages, it isn’t so, since it does have some few benefits as well. Let’s for instance, take the example of a person that is suffering from a disease such as cancer. Cancer patients go through so many different changes in their bodies and are also susceptible to behavioural changes. Cancer patients are also more likely to get depressed, because of the state they are in due to being affected by it. This is why doctors ask cancer patients to think everything is going to be all right and be abnormally happy all the time. They are also asked to do things which make them happy. Being in a state of happiness all the time is something that cures cancer in most cases, as much as the chemotherapy. Earlier it was stated that extreme happiness is also a state of Psychological Utopia and in this case, it is beneficial to the cancer patient, to live in their own world and think everything is going to be fine; to be happy all the time, do whatever that pleases them and steer clear from depression which could complicate the healing/recovery process. It is okay to be delusional at times; sometimes. It is okay to be cut off from reality and build your own reality, where things are okay and are the way that you want them to be.
Our human mind is very powerful and so is the power of perceiving and seeing things. We have a mind that imagines and the gift of imagination is one of the best, which we have been given with. A person can do so much with just imagination. We use the mind in various ways, to understand problems, to come up with decisions and other various functions. We also use our minds to explain our attitudes and other peoples’ attitudes, our behaviour and other peoples’ behaviours. We imagine what our behaviour is doing to us and to the people around us and what other peoples’ behaviours towards us are doing to us and to them. After that we imagine, ‘what if this hadn’t happen’ or ‘what if things stayed that way or stay this way’, and by doing that, we are thinking of a state of Utopia in our minds. People eventually change, even if they do stay the same way over a period of time. Whether they change for the better or the worse is a different matter, but they do change. This means, that the state of Utopia a person is in, is hardly ever long. A person is in one state, for a period of time and then their perfect world crumbles, until they change themselves in one way or the other and rebuild it, to be brought back down in to shambles again. This is an ever lasting cycle and process. Very rarely and sometimes very lucky are those, which live the same life, in the same state of Utopia, until they die.