Winnie The Pooh as Psychology
6 May 2024

And then the little boy put all his disorder toys away in the closet because he had places to be…

Children’s books are often deeper than they seem, and culturally more important. The imperative to be concise, clear and simple perhaps render the good ones timeless classics – kiddie lit is not the place to show off style or wrestle with ultra-complex concepts – and yet a lot of the apex works in the field are so universally relevant that the books have impact that spiral out far outside their time.

This is perhaps why so many of them are the targets of postmodern activism. The good examples are universal truths and we sure as fuck can’t have any of that lying around, some underdog might just be expected to improve themselves (what are you, a fascist?).

The really great ones are immune from tinkering.

Take the story of little Christopher Robin… an imaginative kid dealing with imaginative kid things. Over a hundred years ago the tales first started to appear – and here we still are, looking into the boy’s psyche.

One way to see it is as a early DSM manual. The characters in Winnie the Pooh seem a lot like the possible mental disorders that young people deal with.

Seems like a tall order?

Well, what else would you think these characters represent?

Take Piglet – always quaking and shaking with nerves, terrified of everything and saying “Oh dear…” Anxiety and Panic Disorder personified.

Consider Winne the Pooh himself – a walking eating disorder, always eating all the honey, incapable of moderation and stopping himself.

Or Tigger – bouncing on his tail all over the place incessantly – ADHD.

What about the Rabbit, constantly and meticulously tending his garden – OCD.

Owl – smarter than everyone else, always, despite his dyslexia – is narcissism.

And the most obvious of the lot is Eeyore, the Donkey of Depression.

We could say that Christopher Robin, imagining all these characters, suffer from schizophrenia or MPD.

It is a children’s story, of course, and meant to apply widely. But the characterization is so clear that it lines up perfectly with the Winne The Pooh as Psychology Manual hypothesis. Of course, it does not help or heal those very few individuals who suffer from clinical and certifiable conditions. It would not be good as a diagnostic manual, nor a prescription for recovery or healing to these unfortunate souls who suffer from one of these states.

Yet we live in a time where every state is pathologized, and also medicalised. The boy being a boy is declared to be unmanageable without industrial doses of Ritalin, and we somehow began believing that conditions are birthrights, and identities.

For the universal lessons – applied to the broad marketplace and not the very small marketplace that is in reality pathological – the book holds.

The little boy plays with all the characters in his head, and then, with some sadness as he leaves them behind, puts them away as he leaves his room and goes out into the world to go to school.

Sometimes, nay, in the overwhelming majority of cases, that might well be the solve right there.