We all know about the adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Created in 1926 by A.A Milne, the story of Winnie the Pooh follows the live of Christopher Robin and his animal friends (who are in fact his teddy bears) as they go around Hundred Acre Wood. Filled with lots of different fun filled adventures, the story has captured the imagination of many children and continues to do so today. However have you ever stopped to wonder what is actually going on in the minds of these characters that we all know and love? Sarah E. Shea has looked into this question in a study she published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Read on to discover more about how she sees mental health issues being represented in these childhood classic characters.
Please note that it is clear that the story of Winnie the Pooh never intended on creating characters with mental health difficulties or worrying behaviour. This analysis is an interpretation of these characters and how they could be seen to represent certain mental health difficulties that are very common in society.
Winne the Pooh is the main character of the book which was also created into a children’s animation series. Winnie the Pooh has a sweet and gentle character however he tends to forget things very often. He also can’t seem to keep his attention fixed on one activity for a very long time. Sarah Shea believes his character represents someone with attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity.
However Winnie the Pooh is also obsessive about honey. During his adventures he is willing to take many risks even risking his life to obtain his jar of honey! He put in place lots of various plans and schemes so that he can get what he desires most. However this obsession for honey also means that Winnie the Pooh is slightly overweight…
Piglet is a little, fragile pig that who want to give a big hug! However we shouldn’t be mistaken, some of the gang’s adventures in Hundred Acre Wood show how Piglet can also have an explosive and manic character as he likes to have a perfect, cosy home. However this appears to be due to his anxiousness, embarrassment and his constant worry and need for comfort, support and love.
The study’s author have described Piglets character as showing behavioural signs of general anxiety disorder. People who suffer from this mental illness are constantly anxious and every can cause worry or fear.
You can also read: Hypochondria: causes, symptoms and treatments
Who could have a sadder or more mournful life than Eeyore? He is constantly losing his tail and seems to plunge into a deep depressive state. His first worry is to have a roof over his head which helps him recover from his loss.
However Eeyore’s depressive character can have an impact of his two friend Winnie and Piglet. Both have aspects of their character that are sensitive to negativity. Surrounded by a person who is in a depressive state is never easy but Winnie and Piglet are always their for their friend and never give up on him!
The study’s author believes that Rabbit has OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) as well as a narcissistic personality disorder. Rabbit can’t seem to control repeating himself or doing odd habits and always needs to have order. However his character is both endearing and slightly confusing.
Rabbit is often the character that initiates adventure as he knows everyone in Hundred Acre Wood and everyone knows him. He constantly needs to be in control and manage the situation and wants to be the leader of the group that he has just created to carry out a new adventure.
Owl is very intelligent and comes from a great lineage of owls. However this character is clearly dyslexic. However he compensates for this disorder by using and showing his intelligence in various situations. This compensatory method perhaps implies that he suffers from a low self esteem and wants to display what he believes are his good qualities.
You can also read: Dyslexia: where does it come from?
The researchers of this study see a rather negative future for little Roo. They think he could be led astray and a fall into a life of alcohol, violence and drugs! Roo is certainly portrayed as the kid that rebels against his mum, Kanga. Kanga is seen as the over-protective mother that can often cause a child to rebel… In fact Roo’s mother seems to suffer from a social phobia that very often prevents her little Roo from discovering the world on his own.
However Roo often manages to escape the protective clutches of his mother. Researchers believe his friends are partly responsible. Tigger who is friends with Roo can sometimes be a bad influence on him!
Tigger, one of the books most loveable characters, jumps around everywhere and is full of kindness and affection. However it is clear that he also has a case of untreated hyperactivity. He often takes risks, puts himself in danger, climbs too high in the trees and allows himself to take over the private property of his neighbours. He also often does this in front of little Roo which is why he can be seen as a bad influence.
Chritopher Robin is the only human in the forest. Friends with all the animals that live there, he seems to have a great sense of leadership and often makes decisions for the whole community. However the researchers note how “there is a clear absence of parental control, without forgetting the fact that this child spend a lot of time speaking with animals.”
Due the absence of his parents, Christopher Robin often puts himself in danger and acts in a delirious way. This could suggest a psychotic psychopathology like schizophrenia.
It is clear that A.A Milne never intended to create characters that displayed mental health issues in his children’s novel classic. However it is easy to make links with certain characteristics that we can all suffer from in today’s society whether it is ADHD, depression, anxiety or being easily led astray. The one thing that is very clear in these novels is that everyone works together as a community and accepts each other for the differing characteristics and are always there to help out friends in need.
If you are aware that you suffer from mental health issues don’t keep it to yourself. Make sure you speak to someone whether it is a friend, relative or a medical professional.