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April 2001, Vol. 4
No. 4, p 11.
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Winnie-the-Pooh and attention deficit, too

A soft breeze blows through the ever-verdant valleys as a young boy and his many stuffed friends gambol their way across the Hundred Acre Wood. But all is not as it might seem, for there is a disturbing undercurrent in the imaginings of A. A. Milne, according to Sarah Shea and colleagues at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada (Can. Med. Assoc. J. 2000, 163, 1557–1559).

Rereading the Winnie-the-Pooh stories, the group considered each character and created psychological profiles. “It is clear to our group of modern neurodevelopmentalists,” writes Shea, “that these are in fact stories of seriously troubled individuals.”

According to the Canadians, Pooh shows clear signs of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), inattentive subtype, as well as cognitive impairment that is aggravated by his obsessive fixation on honey. His repetitive counting behavior may indicate obsessive compulsive disorder, which, together with his ADHD, may later manifest as Tourette’s syndrome. Further, his poor brain development and frequent “accidents” suggest a form of shaken bear syndrome.

Piglet obviously suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. The researchers think that if it had been diagnosed and corrected with anti panic medications earlier, Piglet might have been spared some emotional trauma. Similarly, Eeyore is in need of antidepressants.

The researchers are particularly worried about baby Roo because he is growing up in a single-parent situation. Given that Roo’s closest friend is Tigger, who the Canadians think is an improper role model, they are concerned about Roo’s development as a teenager.

“We will someday see a delinquent, jaded, adolescent Roo hanging out late at night at the top of the forest,” Shea predicts, “the ground littered with broken bottles of extract of malt and the butts of smoked thistles.”

Although Tigger is gregarious and affectionate, Shea’s group is concerned about his recurrent pattern of risk-taking adventures. Tigger obviously has no concept of the repercussions of his actions, but the researchers are divided on whether to prescribe stimulant medication, clonidine, or a combination of both.

The group presented its findings in the year-end issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal, when the journal historically presents lighter material. We decided to present it in our April edition.


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