Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Disney and Mental Health

We all grew up with Disney characters, be that with princesses Belle or Cinderella or with more modern stories such as Bolt or Finding Nemo. However, if we start to look behind these characters and their perfect worlds we can actually see a reflection of mental illness in them. So is their world really perfect? Or are they just like all of us, pretending everything is perfect when on the inside that isn't the case?

I think the first character we need to look at is Alice in Wonderland, who is schizophrenic. She is plunged into an imaginary wonderland where there is a talking rabbit, a smoking giant caterpillar and life like playing cards. Her sense of reality is taken from her and instead she is left confused. As children we watch this beautiful fantasy play out but upon reflection we realise how twisted this story is. Alice is left to fight her way back to reality. If we looked even further we would notice that the white rabbit suffers from anxiety always shouting "I'm late" and panicking. The clock is a symbol of pressure. As children we think that the wonderland is magical when in reality we don't realise that none of it really existed.

Captain Hook in Peter pan is said to reflect a person with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). After his incident with Peter Pan in which he lost his hand he seems to continuously lash out at Peter and his crew. He is always in a state of revenge and the fact that the crocodile is always chasing him with the alarm ticking in his belly shows that Hook is always on edge.

Eeyore in Winnie the Pooh is depressed yet I think that this childhood programme works in a great way to teach children how to deal with depressed people. Instead of shutting Eeyore out the group
they make sure to include him and make him feel wanted and important. They never accept him to be happy they just let him feel how he feels but they love him and never ask him to change or pretend to be happy. This helps bring awareness to children whilst hiding the reality from them.

This is only to name a few the internet is full of interpretations of different Disney characters. Check them all out here (

Leading away from mental health just because I have to say this, anyone who is searching for the perfect life: it doesn't exist. Not even in Disney. There is always some sort of evil stepmother Cinderella's forces her to clean, Snow Whites gets her to bite into a poisonous apple. Sleeping Beauty gets a curse put upon her which forces her to prick her finger sending her into an eternal sleep. Anna from frozen gets engaged to a guy after knowing him for less than a day. Nemo gets kidnapped, Merida (from Brave) isn't allowed to follow her dreams and Snow White escapes her home to go live in the woods with 7 dwarfs that she doesn't even know.

"Perfect" doesn't exist so we need to learn to be happy with what we have, so maybe instead of always being on Disney's case about having a happy ending and being perfect, I think we should thank them for discretely showing that life isn't perfect but that doesn't stop these characters!

And last but not least whilst I am on the topic of films and mental health, have you see Inside Out? A must watch! It has a very important message, without happiness you can't feel sadness and without sadness you can have happiness. Remember that.

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