Eating Disorders, Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Dyslexia.
Not necessarily the things that people usually think of when it comes to the may Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and his friends.
Most, if not all, of us will have been good friends with Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Rabbit, Eeyore and Owl though out our childhoods and beyond; with may an hour spent delving into the Hundred Acre Wood, following our favourite characters through Pooh Corner to Roo’s Sandpit and beyond.
But where does the speculation between these beloved characters and special educational needs begin?
Winnie the Pooh, our ‘Chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff’. With a penchant for ‘hunny’ and friendship, Pooh Bear is everybody’s friend due to his lovable naivety. It is however, his obsession with honey that has led many fans to believe that Pooh has an eating disorder. Not only does he constantly crave honey, but will go to great, even extreme, lengths to get it with little regard to his own or those arounds safety. Whilst this doesn’t fit the likes of Anorexia, Bulimia or Binge Eating, it does hint towards a compulsion and restrictive diet.
The next character that is argued to have a recognised condition is Piglet. Notably, Piglet is portrayed consistently as being the small, anxious one who frequently overcomes these anxieties to save his friends. This has led to a lot of speculation on the type of anxiety that Piglet has. For me, GAD is the best fit with the NHS defining it as ‘long-term condition that causes you to feel anxious about a wide range of situations and issues, rather than 1 specific event’. Piglet is often seen to hide away from situations and relies heavily on the support of Pooh to move from one area to another. With a well-known catchphrase of ‘oh d-d-d-dear’, it is easy to see why Piglet is frequently used as an example as a character with an anxiety disorder.
The NHS defines ADHD as ‘a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.’ These are all traits seen in the character Tigger. Not only does he ‘pounce’ on his friends as a greeting, he is always ‘bouncy, trouncey, ouncey, pouncey, fun, fun, fun, fun fun!’. Tigger is frequently seen to be irritating to his friends who frequently struggle to keep up with the energy that Tigger has. A clear example of this can be seen in The Tigger Movie where Tigger becomes obsessed with finding his family. He attempts to recruit his friends with little regard to what they are doing at that moment of time leading Tigger to become despondent and feel abandoned even though this was not the case. Despite the inevitable happy ending, I for one would like to start a petition to have a picture of Tigger next to ADHD in the dictionary!
Eeyore is portrayed as being down, gloomy and depressed. Depression, according to the NHS, is a long-lasting feeling of unhappiness and hopelessness which can lead to a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyable, feeling tired and unmotivated through to poor sleep and in severe cases, suicidal thoughts. Eeyore speaks in a very monotone voice and appears lethargic and introverted. We frequently see Pooh and friends visiting Eeyore in an attempt to ‘cheer him up’ and keep him involved in the activities of the group. Whilst this is a positive thing that they are doing, it should be pointed out that depression is a complex condition and medical help should be sought.
The final two characters I am going to look at is Rabbit and Owl. Rabbit is a character whom frequently clashes with Tigger.
This is because Rabbit is the polar opposite of Tigger in terms of the nervous energy he shows and the short attention span. It is widely speculated that Rabbit has OCD due to his need for methodism and order. Owl is seen as the wise one due to his culmination of books and his story-telling ability. However, there is considerable proof that Owl has dyslexia. It can be seen clearly in The Heffalump Movie where Owl misreads a letter from Christopher Robin which causes a mass panic when in reality he had just gone to school!
All in all, I think there is conclusive proof that the majority of characters in Winnie the Pooh suffer with at least one recognised condition. Whether this is a deliberate ploy by A.A Milne to promote inclusivity and diversity remains to be seen! For more information about all the conditions mentioned in the above, please visit the NHS website.
Article by Young Reporter
First published in Grimsby Telegraph 21st Feb 2022