LIT 4334: The Golden Age of Children's Literature

Winnie-the-Pooh: Christopher Robinson’s Toys

on April 16, 2013 9:07pm

In the children’s classic The World of Winnie-the-Pooh, A.A. Milne created a vast array of characters based directly off his own son’s childhood toys. These toys take on their own characteristic traits in the story that differ from previous works that we’ve read.

Each of the toys, which are animals in Hundred Acre Wood, have personalities that are extremely centered on one direct trait. A study published by the Canadian Medical Journal took these characters and analyzed them according to standards in the DSM-IV and noted that their personalities could notably relate to mental disorders.

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According to DSM-IV criteria by this study, Christopher Robin could be considered schizophrenic because he imagines that his childhood toys are living and can talk. Pooh bear has an eating disorder and obessed with honey, which has led to obesity. Piglet has anxiety, which is demonstrated in his fear of everything. Eeyore has depression and Tigger has ADHD. Owl is dyslexic.  These are all very interesting connections that individuals have made about this story.

Whether it’s fictional or factual, such connections made about this story only show that the story of Winnie-the-Pooh have endured the test of time and become an interest to the minds of both children and adults. People have been influenced by these characters because of their ability to relate to real human traits. Unlike the perfect children of Five Children and It, the egotism of Owl and the impulsiveness of Roo and Tigger are all characteristics that children show in their everyday lives. When these children grow and become adults, they remember how they related to certain characters in this story and still feel a sense of nostalgia that sometimes appears in collections of Winnie-the-Pooh paraphernalia or tattoos.

This makes The World of Winnie-the-Pooh not only a part of the classical editions to children’s literature, but also a part of the sentimental canon. Its story and all of its adaptations still continue to be relevant today. As for the “mental disorders” shown by the characters of this story, we can only guess whether or not these statements are true. However, the truth is that Winnie-the-Pooh is a character loved by many even today.

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2 responses to “Winnie-the-Pooh: Christopher Robinson’s Toys

  1. heatherhalak says:

    I found your post rather interesting especially because I had never heard of an official group such as the Canadian Medical Journal actually formally analyzing the characters of Winnie the Pooh in light of studies done on psychological disorders. I’ve heard rather often of common folk taking guesses at these types of things in reference to the Disney movies, but it was interesting to see these speculations were studied by a professional organization, it illustrates just how powerful and popular Milne’s work really was. I think that though the characters may be representative of mental disorders, they each represent a bit of behavior the average child exhibits. Most children are selfish and somewhat narcissistic, like Owl. Kids are often hyper( this is almost a given), like Tigger. They often look forward to their meals (then again, who doesn’t?), like our protagonist, Pooh. Despite the opinion held by many adults, children do experience anxieties (think back, I’m sure anyone can think of being anxious about certain experiences as a child) much like Pooh’s companion Piglet. Many children go through obsessive phases in which they are absolutely engrossed with the idea of one single toy or show and fixate on it for months sometimes years; this obsessiveness could be comparable with the character of Rabbit. Last but not least, we each (even as children) experience some form of loss and sadness, and have probably experienced some type of depression much like Eeyore. I feel like A. A. Milne includes these traits in his characters to capture the spectrum of behaviors normal to childhood and throughout the text acknowledges that these are natural (not isolated in excess, of course). To the child reading the text, this says, “It’s okay, we do those things, too,” and to the adult reader, who was once a child, it says, “Don’t worry, this is completely normal.”

  2. sconage says:

    While reading the book, I especially thought some of the characters had some type of “mental” issues; many of them exhibited characteristics of mental disorders that I learned about in my special education class, so it was very interesting to see your post. One of the questions that came to mind is what made A.A. Milne include these traits into his characters, were they traits that he saw in his son or maybe other children that he met at that time? I agree that one of the things that has helped Winnie the Pooh remain a classic is that children from any generation or age can relate to the characters in the book.

    When doing some research on Winnie the Pooh, I came across the idea of Kanga having a social anxiety disorder because she is an overprotective mother. Interestedly Kanga seems to be obsessed with controlling her child and will not let him make decisions for himself. Owl is not only dyslexic, but he also has narcissistic personality disorder. Owl is excessively preoccupied with himself and he believes that he is the cleverest animal in the wood.

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