The theory that each character in Winnie the Pooh represents a different mental illness.


When most of us think of Winnie the Poohwe think of an innocent childhood story about a young boy and his loyal animal friends.

But when Dr Sarah Shea and a team of fellow paediatricians presented ‘diagnoses’ for A. A. Milne’s characters in a journal article for the Canadian Medical Association, they were blown away by the public response.

The article, titled ‘Pathology in the Hundred Acre Wood: a neurodevelopmental perspective on A.A. Milne,’ was, according to Shea, intended to poke fun at the very concept of diagnosing and labelling others. For many, however, it tapped into a number of rather blatant truths about some of the world’s most adored characters.

These were the mental disorders Shea and her colleagues associated with each character in Winnie the Pooh:

Winnie the Pooh

Unfortunately for Pooh, he has a number of comorbidities (different disorders occurring at the same time).

“Most striking is his Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD),” the researchers claim.

“As clinicians, we had some debate about whether Pooh might also demonstrate significant impulsivity, as witnessed, for example, by his poorly thought out attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud.”

Poor Pooh. Image via Disney.

Pooh's "obsessive fixation on honey" and "repetitive counting behaviours" further gave the researchers reason to believe he also has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.


Piglet, according to the experts, clearly suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder.

They speculate that had he been diagnosed when he was young, "he might have been placed on an anti-panic agent… and been saved from the emotional trauma he experienced while attempting to trap heffalumps".


Perhaps least surprising of all is Eeyore's diagnosis of depression. Unfortunately, the clinicians don't have enough information to definitively state whether Eeyore's condition is "as an inherited, endogenous depression, or... whether some early trauma contributed to his chronic negativism".

Yes... we could guess Eeyore was depressed. Image via Disney.


The diagnosis for owl was unanimously agreed upon: "Obviously bright, but dyslexic."

"His poignant attempts to cover up for his phonological deficits are similar to what we see day in and day out in others so afflicted."


While the researchers simply say they worry about baby Roo because he's growing up in a single-parent household, the Internet has rather bizarrely taken it upon itself to diagnose Roo with autism.

Shea and colleagues, however, say, "We predict we will someday see a delinquent, jaded, adolescent Roo hanging out late at night at the top of the forest, the ground littered with broken bottles of extract of malt and the butts of smoked thistles."


Again, the clinical diagnosis for Kanga was just that she was "somewhat overprotective," however, the Internet has decided this translates to Social Anxiety Disorder.



While Dr Shea told iNews, "long before I knew what ADHD was, I knew Tigger had behaviour that was unusually impulsive," Tigger doesn't officially receive this diagnosis in the Canadian Medical Association's journal article. Instead, they highlight Tigger's "recurrent pattern of risk-taking behaviours".

There's some debate over Tigger. Image via Disney.

"Look, for example, at his impulsive sampling of unknown substances when he first comes to the Hundred Acre Wood," the researchers say. "With the mildest of provocation he tries honey, haycorns and even thistles."


"Tigger has no knowledge of the potential outcome of his experimentation."


Rabbit, apparently, is a narcissist.

"We note his tendency to be extraordinarily self-important and his odd belief system that he has a great many relations and friends.

"He seems to have an overriding need to organize others, often against their will, into new groupings, with himself always at the top of the reporting structure."

Christopher Robin

The researchers, curiously, offer no diagnosis for Christopher Robin, other than pointing out his "complete absence of parental supervision" and "the fact that this child is spending his time talking to animals".

Alternatively, the Internet is fairly confident Christopher can be diagnosed with schizophrenia, given that he manifests a number of fictional characters from his own mind.

Of course, when A. A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh, and published the story in 1926, precisely none of these diagnostic categories existed.

There was no such thing as ADHD or OCD, and understandings of depression and schizophrenia were vastly different.

It's therefore entirely anachronistic to apply these disorders to the characters of Winnie the Pooh - as interesting as it may seem.

The question remains, however, did Milne intend for his characters to represent different elements of mental dysfunction, even if they weren't conceptualised in the way they are now?

It's likely we'll never know for sure.