Winnie the Pooh and mental illness

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This article will discuss the books of Winnie the Pooh, and how people have discussed over time that each of them demonstrates a mental illness. 

The article will discuss how depression and anxiety are portrayed in it, how they might manifest in a person’s life, and also the way that one can cope with them.

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Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh is a character created by A.A. Milne and illustrated by E.H. Shepard, in 1924. His story is known worldwide since they are now part of the Walt Disney World.

The stories are all set in a forest in England, where Christopher Robin, a boy that lives with his parents, and when he is out of school, he plays with his stuffed animals,  Winnie the Pooh, and others like Piglet, Eeyore, Owl, Tigger, Rabbit, Kanga, and Roo.

The stuffed animals come to life in Christopher’s imagination and they go on adventures during each book or cartoon.

Winnie the Pooh, anxiety and depression

According to a study, the characters of Winnie the Pooh are each representative of a mental illness. The study says that the characters weren’t created that way, especially since when the book was written that topic still wasn’t discussed in such an open way.

But through time, and the development of studies, it was possible to establish the theory that each of them embodies one or more disorders. 

Let’s understand what is said about each of them.

Winnie the Pooh   

It is discussed that he might have an eating disorder since that seems to be something that guides his every action. Not only that, it seems he might have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which is a condition that causes a person to be agitated, with difficulty focussing.

Aside from those, the repetitive behaviors and constantly looking for food might be an indicator of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Piglet   

Winnie’s best friend seemed to have a Generalized Anxiety Disorder, he seemed highly agitated; and also showed traces of low self-esteem.

Rabbit   

He seems to also have OCD, shown by his need to organize others, as well as a high sense of self-importance, which can come from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Eyeore   

It seems he might have Dysthymia, or a persistent depressive disorder, which can be seen in his constant expression of sadness and many negative thoughts.

Owl 

Owl, even though extremely smart, shows he might have Dyslexia, and he seems to try to cover up his faults constantly.

Tigger  

He shows intensively impulsive behavior, putting himself in situations without considering the outcome of it, showing a chronic risk-taking behavior. Not only that, it is possible to say he has ADHD.

Kanga  

The kangaroo seems to suffer from a Social Anxiety Disorder, this is shown in how overprotective he is of his son.

Christopher Robin

It seems that the child might be Schizophrenic. It seems he lost touch with reality and the characters would appear on his playtime according to his mood.

What do these disorders mean?

Eating disorder    

It is a complex mental health condition in which the person’s relationship with food and eating becomes unhealthy. There can be many types of eating disorders, like anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder, pica, rumination disorder, and restrictive food disorder.

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)   

It is an illness that can cause unusual levels of hyperactivity and impulsiveness, people that have ADHD can have more trouble focusing, and it can have a great impact on the person’s work and study life.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It is a condition that can turn a person into obsessive or compulsive behavior, and sometimes to both of them. It can make a person develop repetitive thoughts or rituals. 

A person with OCD might need to lock the door of their house twice because they can have a thought that if they don’t do it, something bad can happen.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder  

People that have Generalized Anxiety Disorder tend to worry extremely about common occurrences. Those concerns come even when there is no reason for the person to be worried about.

Narcissist Personality Disorder  

It is a disorder in which a person has a high sense of self-importance, with a higher than the usual opinion of themselves. They might have problems not being validated by people around them, and this can cause problems in their social relationships.

Dysthymia or Persistent Personality Disorder   

It is a long-lasting form of depression, it usually is a mild depression, but because it goes on for a long time, it can be that, at times, the symptoms can become more severe. 

Depression is a disorder in which the person has a persistent feeling of sadness, as well a hopeless view of the future, with a sense of emptiness, and a decreased sense of self-worth.

Dyslexia   

It is a learning disability that can make it difficult for a person to read because it might be hard for them to identify the speech sounds and learn how they relate to letters and words. 

People with Dyslexia have a regular intelligence level and don’t tend to have eyesight problems, the issue is on how their brain receives and decodes the information.

Social Anxiety Disorder

Social Anxiety Disorder or Social Phobia is a disorder in which the person feels abnormally nervous in social situations. Even everyday situations can be highly stressful to them because they fear judgment and being scrutinized by people. 

Schizophrenia

It is a condition that can cause people to be delusional, have hallucinations, disordered speech, and lack motivation.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ): Did characters of Winnie the Pooh have anxiety and depression?

How does Eyeore demonstrate his depression?

It seems that Eyeore shows a lack of energy that is very common to people with depression. Aside from that, it is shown that he has a decrease in his sense of self-worth, which is demonstrated often when he is constantly saying how grateful he is because his friends noticed him, showing how he feels he might not be needed.

His eyes, that express intense sadness, and his slow walk, even though it doesn’t seem related to any physical issues, also demonstrates the sluggish behavior that can be common in people with depression.

Why is it important that people discuss mental health in Winnie the Pooh?

Studies and people must be discussing mental health, and better yet, relating it to a story that is known in so many places, by so many different cultures.

Though it is possible to give a clear example of what different mental illnesses can cause, and how they look, allowing people to see it with less prejudice, and maybe relate to it in an easier form.

There is another benefit to it as well, in having a story that so a part of a lot of people’s childhood can normalize mental illness and talking about it, which is a life-changing thing to many people that have a mental illness, which is often stigmatized.

What type of treatment did the characters of Winnie the Pooh need?

Depending on the situation, most of them could use a different type of medication, and they could all benefit from therapy sessions. For Dyslexia, ADHD, OCD, Dysthima, Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, and Schizophrenia is accompanied by a psychiatrist seems extremely important. 

If you’re facing this, it may be a good idea to seek the help of a therapist or other mental health professional. You can find a therapist at BetterHelp who can help you learn how to cope and address it.

For anxiety and depressive spectrum disorders, the use of medication would lessen its symptoms, making it possible for the person to have an improvement in their sense of well-being. And therapy can help them understand what triggers their anxiety and depression, and how they can deal with it in a less hurtful way.

As for Dyslexia and ADHD, they usually need medication to make the person’s brain work similarly to other people’s brains do, and therapy can help them learn strategies to deal with it better. As for Schizophrenia, patients with this condition tend to have a constant follow-up with a psychiatrist since it is a condition that has no cure and can cause the person to lose touch with reality.  

But for all of those and the other ones, such as Eating Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder, therapy might also be an important part of the treatment. For the eating disorder, therapy can help understand how this has developed, work on the root of the issue and little by little allow the person to change the relationship they have with food.

As for the person with a Narcissistic Personality, therapy can be a good way for them to confront their feelings about themselves and others, and although they tend to have difficulty staying through the process, it might be extremely important to improve their ability to live in society.

What can we learn about how the characters treat Eyeore and how people should treat one’s with depression?

From the relationships established by the characters it is learned that when a person is depressed, people around them should be helpful, caring, don’t judge or cut them out of their life.

Although many times Eyeore himself tries to hide, or think people will forget about him, as he is constantly walking behind the group, it is great to see that his friends don’t leave him behind, making him feel connected and included in all the adventures.

That is how people should treat a friend with depression, and although it might be hard at times, and not all friends will understand, it is important to find spaces where you feel supported.

Is it normal to watch Winnie the Pooh even after I am grown?

Yes, it is normal to watch Winnie the Pooh and all cartoons even after a person is grown up. As this whole article has shown, even if sometimes it might seem silly, many serious topics can be taken for discussion from a cartoon or a children’s book.

It can even be a great way to bring the topic of mental health to the table, allowing people to talk about it more softly, without many misconceptions that people usually have about it. For example, it might be easier to explain how a person with depression feels to their family members by using Eyeore as an example.

Conclusion

In this article, it was discussed how the characters of Winnie the Pooh showed symptoms of mental illness, including depression and anxiety. To clarify that, the article explained, using the symptoms of both disorders portrayed in the cartoon, what depression and anxiety are.

Aside from that, the article discussed ways the characters and people might cope with it.

If you have any questions or comments about this article, feel free to write it in the space below.

References

Shea SE, Gordon K, Hawkins A, Kawchuk J, Smith D. Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne. CMAJ. 2000 Dec 12; 163(12): 1557–1559.

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