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A.A Milne’s 1977 show Winnie The Pooh secretly deals with the topic of mental disorders, whether it be the depression of Eeyore, or schizophrenic tendencies of Christopher Robin, many of the characters in this happy, upbeat kids show have a hidden issue.
First of all, the most obvious disorder is Eeyore having very noticeable depression, Eeyore displays is a prevailing sadness and depressed mood, low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, a loss of enjoyment of things that should be pleasurable, and fatigue and loss of energy every day. While all of his contrarily hyperactive and happy-go-lucky friends embark on adventures, Eeyore begrudgingly tags along with a lack of interest. Eeyore often makes self-deprecating comments about his unimportance, frequently saying ‘Thanks for noticing me’. Eeyore’s hopeless outlook on life is depicted when Pooh said good morning to Eeyore, and he glumly responds by saying, ‘Good morning Pooh Bear. If it is a good morning, which I doubt’. Eeyore is characterized by always being sad, but why did A.A Milne’s decide this.
Secondly, Piglet is also a candidate for having a mental disorder. Piglet is defined by his petite and flimsy frame. These physical qualities most likely contributes to his anxious, fragile, and insecure nature. Piglet often cowers in fear even when moments are unthreatening. Though his best friend, Pooh, and the others don’t seem to mind Piglet’s constant fears and happily brings him along and protects him through every adventure, Piglet is noticeably ashamed of his cowardliness, and many storylines have revolved around him making attempts to overcome his fears. It is quite clear that Piglet’s timid, jittery, and hesitant qualities are grounds to diagnose him with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), for short, anxiety. Piglet’s irrational anxiety causes him to suffer from a distinct stuttering speech impediment, stress, and general nervousness. Those with GAD worry endlessly and cannot be relaxed immediately, like Piglet. Symptoms of GAD that Piglet experiences are excessive and ongoing worry and tension, an unrealistic view of problems, and being easily startled. Piglet often thinks of how any situation can go wrong and endures internal conflicts regarding what he should do in case a situation does go wrong. Piglet undoubtedly suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder; and his character is developed through his anxious demeanor.
Thirdly, there’s the face of the cartoon himself, Winnie the Pooh. He is naive, innocent, cheerful, friendly, thoughtful, and sometimes insightful; he is always willing to help his friends and try his best. A prime motivation of Pooh is his love for honey, which almost always leads to trouble. Pooh’s obsession with honey and his round tummy can allow us to establish that he may have an eating disorder; specifically binge-eating disorder. According to Mayo Clinic ‘binge-eating disorder is a serious eating disorder in which you frequently consume unusually large amounts of food and feel unable to stop eating.’ This is portrayed by Pooh who constantly and compulsively devours honey.
Fourth of all, Christopher Robin is the only human character in the Winnie the Pooh franchise. He is known for his cheerful and compassionate personality and is someone that Pooh and his friends respect and care for. Christopher Robin’s kind virtues earn him the status as Pooh’s best friend, aside from Piglet. Although he is only a child, Christopher Robin is much wiser and more mature than the majority of the other characters. However, when you analyze him from a psychological perspective, it can be determined that Winnie the Pooh and his friends were created from the imagination of Christopher Robin. Imaginary friends are a psychological and social phenomenon where a friendship or other interpersonal relationship takes place in the imagination rather than external physical reality. This psychological phenomenon can be used to explain why Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, Kanga, and Eeyore are stitched up like toy, stuffed animals. In some studies, imaginary friends are defined as children impersonating a specific character (imagined by them), or objects or toys that are personified. However, some psychologists will define an imaginary friend only as a separate created character. Imaginary friends can be people, but they can also take the shape of other characters such as animals (this is depicted by Christopher Robin). Also, young boys tend to make male imaginary friends which explains why all but one of the characters in the Winnie the Pooh series are male. Imaginary friends are most common in school-age children. They reveal, according to several theories of psychology, a child’s anxieties, fears, goals and perceptions of the world through that child’s conversations. Clearly, Christopher Robin created Winnie the Pooh and his friends to cope with the struggle of growing up into an older adolescent and explore the world around him (this is why the characters always embark on a new adventure).
Fifth of all, Tigger is Pooh’s exuberant, happy, irresponsible and sometimes trouble-making tiger friend. He loves to bounce, especially bouncing on others. He is energetic, outgoing, fun loving and so overconfident that he thinks that any task is ‘what tiggers do best’. Oftentimes, Tigger causes more chaos rather than good. However, Tigger is also shown to be tough, fearless, optimistic and resourceful. However, Tigger’s continual bouncing, hyperactivity and irresponsible attitude cause problems for him and others around him; and this is grounds to diagnose him with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Tigger rarely sits still and is always depicted running, climbing, or fidgeting. Tigger’s arrival at Pooh’s house in the middle of the night is evidence of his inability to control his impulses. In fact, in that episode, Tigger and Pooh were complete strangers. Impulsive behaviour, interrupting and intruding are at the heart of Tigger’s problems. Soon after their first meeting, for example, Tigger suddenly interrupts Pooh, climbs on to the table, wraps himself with the tablecloth and brings everything crashing to the floor. When Pooh questions Tigger about his hyper behavior, rather than accepting responsibility for his actions, Tigger accuses the tablecloth of trying to bite him. Tigger makes bold statements, such as declaring that he is only bouncy before breakfast. He proclaims impulsively that whatever food he is offered is what Tigger like best, then gulps down large mouthfuls of the food in question, only to find he dislikes it very much. More evidence of Tigger’s recklessness and poor impulse control is displayed by his belief that he can do anything. He has no sense of fear or responsibility. This is apparent when he climbs up a high tree with Roo on his back before he determined whether he was able to climb a tree in the first place. Inevitably, the two get stuck when Tigger realizes he has no idea how to climb down. On one occasion, Tigger grabs Roo’s medicine from Kanga, and dangerously swallows it; almost consuming the spoon as well. Tigger never learns from his mistakes, bouncing back almost immediately after a frightening and potentially hazardous incident. As a result, Tigger’s behavior causes concern to those around him. Living with someone suffering from ADHD can be difficult and may be why Rabbit boldly asserts that Tigger should be loosed into the forest. Rabbit and his friends believe the shock of being lost might cause Tigger to calm down a little on his return, a strategy that backfires, however. It is clear that Tigger is suffering from ADHD, as he exhibits countless symptoms of the disorder.
Sixth of all, Rabbit is the friendly but irritable rabbit in the Winnie the Pooh series. He believes he is the smartest animal in the Hundred Acre Wood, always insists on doing things his way, and is obsessed with rules, planning and order. He often loses his temper to others and bosses them around, but deep down, he cares plenty about his friends. In the Walt Disney films, he takes immense pride in his garden and hates when someone or something messes it up. Evidently, Rabbit can be diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since he is intensely preoccupied with cleaning, planning, organizing, and maintaining order. In most episodes and movie scenes involving Rabbit, he is seen tending to his already clean home and protecting his garden from those who may damage it. If anyone or anything tries to steal his vegetables or damages his garden, Rabbit get very upset. In fact, Rabbit keeps each of his vegetables symmetrical in his garden, which is a tell-tale symptom of OCD. In addition to wanting to be organized and practical, Rabbit’s tendency to take charge is inflated to the extent that he becomes a control freak who insists on doing things exactly right, in his way and in the proper order. He also has a short temper and can act mean or callous to others, although not intentionally. Symptoms of OCD that Rabbit exhibits are fear of contamination or dirt, keeping things orderly and symmetrical, and constantly washing and/or cleaning. Rabbit’s OCD causes him to be very uptight and sometimes, rude to his friends. In his quest to maintain order, keep his property clean, and assure his plans are conducted, Rabbit portrays signs of that he is suffering from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.
The reason why A.A Milne chose this path for Winnie the Pooh is unknown, maybe he’s trying to spread awareness, maybe he’s dealt with this stuff himself. Although this cartoon was made in 1926, and none of these disorders were recognized maybe Milne decided to associate each character with a different issue so younger children will know this is normal and to not treat others badly.
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