We have been conditioned from the start to think of Disney tales as good moral examples for children and adults alike. They always end with a “happily ever after” and no one ever really considers the mental stability of these lovable characters. Instead, we pass off their behaviour as little quirks or idiosyncrasies that add to the characters’ charm. But after closer inspection, it’s hard to deny that some of these characters may not be “all there” as we initially thought.
Pinocchio: Pathological Liar & Conduct Disorder
A cautionary tale for children about the consequences of lying, the original version of Pinocchio was actually completely different than Walt Disney’s 1940 film. Originally written by Italian writer Carlo Collodi, Pinocchio was portrayed as a wretched, ill-behaved boy who liked to cause mischief and mayhem. (Being a boy, I’m not all that surprised, aren’t all little boys mischievous?) However, Disney thought that people could not sympathize with Pinocchio’s cocky and inhuman personality and decided to revamp the entire story by focusing on the consequences of lying and the importance of being truthful. To make his point come across, Disney turned Pinocchio into an innocent, passive character who is quite naive about the world around him. In fact, the character of Jiminy Cricket (who in Collodi’s version had a minimal part & was killed almost instantly by Pinocchio), was created specifically as a “conscience” to steer Pinocchio away from trouble. Despite the theory of “letting your conscience be your guide,” Pinocchio ignores Jiminy in many instances and shows many signs of being a pathological liar as well as having a Conduct Disorder (CD).
Winnie the Pooh: Binge Eating Disorder
The original tales of Winnie the Pooh were written by British writer A.A Milne. The characters were first introduced in the book Winnie-the-Pooh in 1926. In 1930, Stephen Slesinger bought the merchandising rights from Milne and, not long after his death, Walt Disney acquired the rights, resulting in the lovable Pooh we all know today. Now, I’m going to state the obvious here, but Winnie the Pooh has a clear honey addiction. His constant need for honey is, in fact, a key trait of a binge eating disorder. Symptoms like rapidly eating large amounts of food, stockpiling food in secret, and never feeling fully satisfied are all characteristics of the disorder. Instances of hallucinations and anxiety/stress can also be caused by Pooh’s need for a “fix” of honey.
Alice: Chemical/Drug Dependency
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was originally written by Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll, in 1865. Throughout the years, many have questioned the story of Alice and the underlying theme of drug use. Although there has been skepticism about Lewis actually being a drug user himself, it’s evident that drug use was seen as commonplace during the 60s and 70s. In fact, a syndrome called Todd’s Syndrome is also commonly referred to as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome. The syndrome is triggered by muscimol, a psychoactive alkaloid found in mushrooms (a reoccurring symbol in Alice). It can be characterized by the distortion of human perception and is usually associated with migraines, brain tumors, and the use of psychoactive drugs.
Peter Pan: Gerascophobia & Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Oh, Peter Pan, the boy who never wants to grow up. Don’t we all wish that? Originally written by J.M Barrie in the early 1900s, the character of Peter Pan was first introduced in Barrie’s book The Little White Bird and then re-introduced in Peter Pan the play, in 1904. Although the story has gone through many adaptations over the years, the character of Peter Pan has stayed pretty much the same: a rude, fearless, cocky and careless boy who holds the belief that the world revolves around him. These attributes are quite similar to those of someone with a narcissistic personality disorder. According to Merriam-Webster’s Medical Dictionary, a narcissistic personality disorder is “characterized especially by an exaggerated sense of self-importance, persistent need for admiration, lack of empathy for others, excessive pride in achievements, and snobbish, disdainful, or patronizing attitudes.” In addition, Pan also suffers from gerascophobia, an abnormal and persistent fear of growing old.
Prince Charming (Snow White): Necrophilia
Now bear with me on this one cause there is a reason to my madness (though I may be stretching this one a bit)! Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was Walt Disney’s first full-length feature film. Released in 1937, the film was based off of the Grimm Brothers’ version of the fairytale. In typical Disney fashion, the gruesome fairytale was “childrenized” to some degree while keeping the main plotline intact. But no matter which way you try to twist it, kissing a dead body is just downright creepy! Necrophilia is defined as an “obsession with and usually erotic interest in or stimulation by corpses,” and it’s hard to deny that Prince Charming fits the bill. Looking at the Grimm version, it’s hard to believe that it could get any worse—but it does. Unlike the Disney version of the tale, Prince Charming never meets Snow White before her impending doom; he doesn’t even know who she is. In fact, not only are they complete strangers, when Prince Charming sees Snow in her glass coffin he practically begs the dwarfs to let him have her because he is so enchanted by her beauty that he can’t live without her.
Princess Aurora: Hypersomnia
The story of Sleeping Beauty is also originally a Grimm Brothers tale. Disney took a stab at an adaptation and released his version back in 1959. The basic plot of the story stayed the same; a princess is cursed to prick her finger on a spindle and fall into a deep sleep. However, there are some big differences between the versions, one of them being the amount of beauty rest the little princess got. This is where signs of a disorder come into play. Hypersomnia is defined as “the condition of sleeping for [deep] excessive periods at intervals with intervening periods of normal duration of sleeping and waking.” Now in the Disney version, Aurora sleeps for a short period of time while the fairies rush to the Forbidden Mountain to rescue Prince Philip to bring him back to the castle. However, in the Grimm tale, Princess Aurora (who is actually referred to as Briar-Rose) falls asleep for a total of 100 years! Talk about over-sleeping!