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Winnie the Pooh and Mental Health


Introduction

In A.A. Milne’s magical collection of Winnie the Pooh stories, new generations still fall in love with this yellow bear who’s obsessed with honey. Whether it’s the talking animals, or the silliness that happens in the story, young kids instantly love Winnie the Pooh at first read.


In this article, (or in this Hundred Acre Wood - Pooh reference intended) we will learn more about how through neurodevelopmental research, we are able to identify most, if not all Winnie the Pooh characters as mental health disorders.


Disclaimer

A.A. Milne did not intend for all Winnie the Pooh characters to represent mental disorders. This post is purely based on neurodevelopmental research only, first explored by Sarah E. Shea, Kevin Gordon, Ann Hawkins, Janet Kawchuk and Donna Smith.


Winnie the Pooh

1) ADHD

Winnie the Pooh, despite being absolutely charming to younger kids, is also extremely sluggish and unmotivated. Pooh suffers from the Attention Deficit subtype of ADHD, which causes the prefrontal cortex of the brain to slow down (when it should speed up) when doing work that requires thinking and concentrating.


2) Binge eating

Some people go against the fact that Winnie the Pooh suffers from eating disorders since he really could just be loving honey to an extreme, however, Pooh’s excessive eating shows signs of binge eating.

Narrator: “So Pooh ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate, and ate... and ate!”


Picture source: CNBC


Piglet

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

This “poor, anxious, blushing and flustered” Piglet excessively worries and also gets startled easily. He gets nervous and stammers constantly. He also overthinks a lot, like how a small situation can turn into a huge disaster.

Piglet always wants to be the smallest and least noticeable character, and shies away from trying something new such as welcoming Kanga and Roo into the Hundred Acre Wood and ice skating.



Picture source: TipHero



Tigger

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Tigger seems to be hyper all the time, leading him to excessive rambling and bouncing.

He is on the completely opposite spectrum compared to Winnie the Pooh. Although both could have ADHD, Pooh is the Attention Deficit subtype while Tigger is the Hyperactivity subtype as he is restless, impulsive and likes to intrude on private conversations.


Eeyore

Dysthymic disorder

Eeyore could potentially suffer from dysthymic disorder, which is a chronic form of depression. We can argue that Eeyore suffers from this depressive mood disorder because we have basically never seen him smile throughout the entire movie of Winnie the Pooh (2001 version).


Despite the fact that Eeyore is a total mood killer, we get all the hardest life lessons from this donkey. We learn that it’s important to show gratitude and that you should always seek out help whenever you need it. Eeyore also uses sarcasm to implement a funny element into the movie, which is ironic considering the fact that he may be depressed.


However, we do see a gradual improvement on his side. He went from saying “...but nobody listens to me, anyway” to saying “thank you for noticing me”, showing that he’s gradually trying to understand that friendship is all around him and that people care about him, exactly what people surrounding dysthymic patients should try to show - patience and care.


Eeyore also shows signs of gaslighting, when he didn’t acknowledge Christopher Robin who attached Eeyore’s tail back in place, and also completely denies the fact that he’s constantly complaining about the tiniest of things.


Picture source: screenrant


Rabbit

OCD

Rabbit must have everything neat, tidy and organized. He owns a garden and everything in it has to be on point or else he goes insane and freaks out. It affects his social life as well since Rabbit is completely unable to relax until things are perfectly organized.


Picture source: disney.fandom.com



A few more

Kanga: Social Anxiety Disorder

Roo: Autism

Christopher Robin: Schizophrenia

Owl: Dyslexia


Sources

https://www.inspiremalibu.com/blog/mental-health/winnie-the-pooh-and-mental-illness-conditions/

https://www.helyx.science/post/winnie-the-pooh-mental-disorders

https://www.cmaj.ca/content/cmaj/163/12/1557.full.pdf

https://ohmy.disney.com/movies/2016/08/19/life-lessons-from-eeyore/

https://screenrant.com/disneys-winnie-pooh-eeyore-worst/

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2007/oct/10/socialcare.comment


Researcher: Hailey

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