In late 1925, a newspaper in London published a story by A.A. Milne titled “The Wrong Sort of Bees”. The tale introduced a bear named Winnie the Pooh who would become the lead character of one of the most successful children’s stories of all time. Inspiration came to A.A. Milne’s from his son’s meeting at the London Zoo of a black bear from the wilderness of the Canada. The son was named Christopher Robin Milne and the bear was called “Winnipeg” or “Winnie”.
In his stories Milne endeavored to make his character’s less than perfect with the belief it made them more loveable. Most of us have been familiar since childhood with Pooh’s forgetfulness, Tigger’s mood changes and Piglet’s fear of just about everything. Here in plain terms is a list of the dysfunctions I believe A.A. Milne’s gave his characters of Hundred Acre Wood to make them have human likeness.
Pooh Bear – suffers from an eating disorder and food (honey) addiction, episodes of dementia and exhibitionist tendencies (reluctance to wear pants).
Tigger – mood swings from irrational exuberance to despair combined with narcissistic behaviors and A.D.H.D. evidenced by his inability to ever be still.
Piglet – General Anxiety Disorder with a variety of phobias including creaking branches, small streams, gusting wind, his own shadow and other irrational and delusional fears.
Eeyore – clinical depression and feelings of inadequacy driven by his lack of a tail and his need to overcompensate by wearing a fake one made from fabric and a nail.
Owl – narcissistic personality approaching delusions of grandeur fed by anti-social tendencies and an over inflated ego with an irrational need to always be correct.
Rabbit – obsessive-compulsive personality with a side helping of neurosis exhibited by his incessant, exacting attention to his gardening, cooking and keeping things orderly.
Even the Christopher Robin character, patterned after A.A. Milne’s son, could be said to have “issues”. Some have surmised that in the story his playing in the woods all the time while talking to stuffed animals could be looked upon as either just a kid’s story or a form of psychotic hallucination.
You may or may not choose to think it is fairly apparent the benign messaging of story shapes the consciousness of children in a healthful way. I choose to think the characters are not just entertainment, but art in the way the writer poured emotion into their creation.
Having been in depression recovery for years now I can readily think of people I know in self-help groups that match each of the Pooh characters. I am grateful A.A. Milner created such deep characters and meaningful stories that have more significance today than when they were written. To smile, be entertained and be touched, all at the same time, is truly the mark of great work.
You know the definition
of a dysfunctional family,
It’s any family with more
than one member in it.