Cartoon shows aired on the television is the most popularly viewed mode of
entertainment by children in the current age. There was a time when children
preferred to be engaged in outdoor games and activities. They now prefer to be
indoors glued to their televisions and other gizmos. The television is indeed a
valuable asset if used wisely. Growing children can derive a lot of educational
benefits from different language and animal shows. Instead children are now
addicted to cartoons. It is established
that children watch cartoons for an average of thirty-two hours, weekly. The
shows have a huge impact on them psychologically. According to scientific conclusions, children
who watch cartoons for three to four hours a day have higher chances to be
influenced by violence and other aspects portrayed. Also marginalization of
cognitive functions, divergence from realities, and an increase of negative
behavior might develop over the course of time.
plays a big role in children between the ages of three to six. They begin to
absorb what they see and imitate it. If they are left unsupervised, children
tend to spend their entire day in front of what is generally termed as ‘The
Idiot Box’. Parents find it to be an easy way to engage their children while
they do their work. Also they tend to be
aggressive, nervous and disobedient. They come to develop a feeling of insensitiveness.
For many years cartoons have been considered as
entertainment for children. What one has failed to notice is the various mental
illnesses depicted in different characters in the cartoon. On close
observation, these aspects are very evident. In every cartoon show, at the
least one character suffers from a certain mental disorder.
Who would have thought such entertainment shows for children would depict characters
with mental disorders with such
The paper focuses on different mental disorders such as Post
Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD),
Schizophrenia, Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), Dyslexia, Social anxiety
disorder, Autism spectrum disorder, Depression, Antisocial personality disorder
(APD), Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Borderline personality disorder
(BPD), Zoophilic, Stockholm
Syndrome, Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), Attention-deficit/hyperactivity
characters with mental disorders and how they are subtly portrayed
The cartoons focused on are : Winnie the Pooh, Courage the Cowardly Dog,
Peanuts, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Frozen, The Lion King, Beauty and the
Beast, Phineas and Ferb, Alice in Wonderland, The Little Mermaid, Sleeping
Beauty, Aladdin and The Princess and the Frog.
these cartoons have a reasonable number of characters suffering from mental
As in the
case of Winnie the Pooh all the characters have a mental disorder. Christopher Robin, the boy, has Schizophrenia. It is said that the whole
scenario was his imagination. Winnie the
Pooh has Impulsivity with obsessive fixations, ADHD and OCD. Pooh is obsessed
with honey and goes to great extents to get it. Piglet, the pig, suffers from
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), He worries a lot. He has anxiety and as a
result stutters. His anxiety comes as a lack of self-esteem. Owl suffers from Dyslexia.
He is considered to be the most intelligent character in the show but he often
gets his spellings wrong or mixed up, Tigger, the tiger, has
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). He is always bouncing around
and you can never see him rest, even for a minute. Kanga, the mother Kangaroo,
has Social anxiety disorder. She is overprotective when it comes to her son.
She does not let him make his own decisions and is always worried about him. Roo,
the baby Kangaroo, has Autism spectrum disorder. He is always kept protected by
his mother and so is unaware of the surrounding dangers. He is also attached to
the idea of staying in his mother’s pouch and never leaving it. Rabbit suffers
from Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). He is obsessed with organizing things
and keeping things in order as seen in the case of his gardening. Eeyore, the
donkey, suffers from Depressive disorder. He is always seen to be depressed and
sad, lost in a world of his own and does not display any emotions such as joy
In Courage the Cowardly Dog, Courage suffers from Post Traumatic Stress
Disorder (PTSD), Generalized Anxiety Disorder. He was abandoned as a child
which is the reason for him worrying too much. He is afraid that it will happen
again. He often experiences hyper arousal symptoms such as being startled,
feeling tensed, having trouble sleeping and angry outbursts. He also suffers
from Paranoid Personality Disorder because of which he feels like anything and
everything is a threat to him.
The methodology used is Psychoanalytic Literary
Criticism which is similar to Psychoanalysis propounded by Sigmond Freud.
Psychoanalysis is defined as “a system of psychological
theory and therapy which aims to treat mental disorders by investigating the
interaction of conscious and unconscious elements in the mind and bringing
repressed fears and conflicts into the conscious mind by techniques such as
dream interpretation and free association.” Psychoanalysis is used to identify
the different mental disorders affecting the characters in cartoons. On the
basis of the theories, related instances are derived from the cartoons in which
the characters behave accordingly.
The question asked here is why are such illnesses assigned to these characters?
It may be a way of recognition, a uniqueness expected in each and every
character. As seen in the case of Winnie the Pooh, each character has a
different mental illness. It is to give them their own unique aspect that makes
them different from each other.
By using cartoon characters to depict mental disorders, the television industry
is using psychology as a means to commercialise.
depiction of mental disorders in cartoon characters deeply influences children.
They absorb little things and it often leads to the imitation of the
characters. It is a negative impact on them. In a way it also makes them aware
of such disorders.
television industry is commercializing psychological disorders for their own
To conclude, this paper deals with depiction of mental
illnesses in cartoon characters, why it is so and how it affects children who
are the main viewers of cartoons.