Document Type

Honors Thesis

Publication Date



In J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the One Ring seems to exert power over some characters more than others. Though these differences could seem like an oversight or a lack of continuity, they also offer the opportunity to examine the effects of the differential power of the Ring. If the Ring is addictive, as Tom Shippey claims in The Road to Middle Earth, then it is possible to examine the etiology of addiction to the Ring (126). In this thesis, I present a psychological reading of Tolkien that relies on a modern psychological theory, namely the diathesis-stress model. According to David H. Barlow and Mark Durand’s Abnormal Psychology, the diathesis-stress model is a model of psychopathology that shows interactions between genetics and the environment, such that the development of pathology relies on both genetic predispositions and environmental stressors (34). The diathesis-stress model helps to explain why only some people fall to the addictive power of Ring, and I explore the tendencies and stressors that seem to affect those around the Ring the most, such as affinity with nature or desire for power.



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