By Elyana Schosek
Winnie the Pooh is a character most people probably know from their childhood. The first set of his stories by A.A. Milne came out in 1926 and was followed by more stories and a number of movies, including the most recent one called “Christopher Robin” that came out in 2018.
These stories follow a group of animals that live in the Hundred Acre Woods and the adventures of a young boy, Christopher Robin, and his friends Tiger, Pooh Bear, Kanga, Roo, Owl, Rabbit and Piglet, among others.
The movie “Christopher Robin” follows an older Robin as he relives some of his childhood fantasies in the midst of his busy adult life. The newest movie is a more modern version of the old stories and was the first one to not be animated.
Springville-Griffith Institute High School offers a Behavioral/Abnormal Psychology class to its juniors and seniors during the spring semester. Behavioral psych is also called behaviorism, a concept that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning which is usually due to the environment among other factors.
In this class, students learn about various psychological and social disorders that are very much prevalent in society, motivation and emotion, human development, stress and health, and personality.
The connection between the aforementioned class and Winnie the Pooh is that psychologists have studied these stories and classified its characters.
This means that professional psychologists have given diagnoses to the fictional characters of Milne.
Milne was a World War I veteran who suffered from PTSD and once noted that he created these characters to help him cope with his PTSD. The question remains though as to whether or not he did indeed write these characters with the intent of them having disorders.
Prior to watching the movie “Christopher Robin” along with “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie,” which is more of a short film, the class was asked to be thinking about the various disorders they had discussed and what the possibilities were for each character. They were told not to look anything up because as the teacher acknowledged, the answers are out there, but she wanted to hear what they had to say, not what Google said.
After watching the films, the class had a discussion as to what they thought each character had. Theories for each one varied but there were no wrong answers.
Only a few people guessed that Christopher Robin was Schizophrenic, which means that someone may have hallucinations or delusions that can be visual and/or auditory and impair one’s ability to function properly.
Pooh was impulsive and had an addiction, specifically an eating disorder. Some thought that the honey Pooh so dearly clung to was meant to represent alcohol or drugs. As for Tiger, most thought he had Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) because of the way he was always moving.
Another more difficult one to guess was that Roo was autistic. Autism is a developmental disorder that involves significant challenges in socialization, communication and behavior. No one could really put a finger on Owl because he only appeared a few times throughout both movies.
Most students were relatively sure that Piglet suffered from severe anxiety since he was almost always afraid or worried about something. Rabbit was thought to have OCD since he was always looking to be in control of the situation and have things perfect.
Studying these characters was a good way for the psychology students to see how some of these disorders may actually look and to help them see them in a more positive light.