Cartoons are a fond childhood memory until you really start to think about some of the animated heroes and villains. Believe it or not, lots of the best cartoon characters on TV suffer from mental illnesses. Think it’s normal for a girl to be BFFs with a talking tree? Ever wonder why Lucy kept pulling that football away from Charlie Brown? Wasn’t it a bit odd that Ariel was a total hoarder?
People are used to seeing mental disorders on TV. Shows like Girls, Monk, and Parenthood allow the spectator to get a small sense of what it’s like to be around a person afflicted with a mental illness. The same is true for mental disorders in movies. A Beautiful Mind gave viewers a look at schizophrenia and Rain Man was one of the first films to explore autism.
But it’s weird to think that your favorite silly, zany cartoon characters can suffer from those same afflictions. Don’t think that Elsa had some serious depression? Think again. Cartoons have always included characters suffering from psychological problems, like how Winnie the Pooh represents mental illnesses. Check out cartoon characters who you never realized had mental disorders below and vote up the most accurate diagnoses.
The Diagnosis: Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
What Is ADHD? According to The National Institute of Mental Health, ADHD " is a disorder that makes it difficult for a person to pay attention and control impulsive behaviors. He or she may also be restless and almost constantly active."
Tigger is one of the Winnie the Pooh characters who represent mental illnesses. Has anyone ever seen the playful tiger sit still for more than two seconds? He has bad impulse control, evidenced with all the bouncing around he does. He doesn't really pay attention to the fact that his restless behavior may actually be annoying to his friends.
The Diagnosis: Avoidant personality disorder (APD)
What Is APD? According to WebMD, APD "is characterized by feelings of extreme social inhibition, inadequacy, and sensitivity to negative criticism and rejection." A key symptom includes, "Avoiding work, social, or school activities for fear of criticism or rejection. It may feel as if you are frequently unwelcome in social situations, even when that is not the case. This is because people with avoidant personality disorder have a low threshold for criticism and often imagine themselves to be inferior to others."
Who doesn’t love Charlie Brown from Peanuts? You may be surprised that this comic character suffers from APD. Chuck always gets the sense that no one likes him and everyone is making fun of him. He is preoccupied entirely by his own short-comings in life. He also carries the constant fear of being rejected. One of the great things about Charlie Brown is that he does not necessarily let his psychological issues ruin his life. He keeps trying to kick that football!
The Diagnosis: Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
What Is NPD? According to the Mayo Clinic, NPD is " a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance, a deep need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. But behind this mask of ultraconfidence lies a fragile self-esteem that's vulnerable to the slightest criticism."
The Evil Queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is the quintessential example of NPD. She is completely engrossed with being the most beautiful person in the kingdom. She needs the constant affirmation from her mirror. Then, when she discovers that her step-daughter, Snow White, has become "the fairest of them all," extreme jealousy and envy sends her into a murderous rage. The Evil Queen absolutely refuses to stand by and play second fiddle in the beauty department to anyone, which shows her extreme lack of self-esteem and obsessive thirst for admiration.
#21 on The Greatest Female Villains
#24 on The Best Fictional Witches
The Diagnosis: Major depressive disorder
What Is Major Depressive Disorder? According to the American Psychiatric Association, major depression "negatively affects how you feel, the way you think and how you act." Some symptoms are "feeling sad or having a depressed mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, loss of energy or increased fatigue, and feeling worthless or guilty."
Elsa from Frozen is the sister with the magical powers. She is unable to control her emotions, which resulted in her hurting her younger sibling when they were children. Disturbed, Elsa locks herself away and refuses to face the world out of fear of hurting more people. She loses interest in all the games and activities she did with her sister, refusing to leave her room. She also struggles with extreme guilt for the lack of control over her powers. Her low self-esteem is also evident in her song, "Let It Go," where she expresses the need to put up a facade: "Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be! / Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know.”
#13 on The Best Disney Princesses