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Winnie The Pooh Characters "Seriously Troubled"

Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger and Christopher Robin are "seriously troubled individuals" living in the "disenchanted" Hundred Acre Wood and are in dire need of psychoactive drugs, said Canadian researchers on Tuesday.

The characters in A.A. Milne's famous children's stories suffer from unrecognized and untreated problems including attention deficit disorder and chronic depression, said a tongue-and-cheek study by pediatricians at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Sarah Shea, lead researcher on the study, told Reuters that her team of modern neuro-developmentalists wanted to paticipate in the trend of analyzing famous works of art, and remind people that wonderful people can have disorders.

"The world is full of wonderful people who have quirks and we love them. How dare anyone say there is anything wrong with someone diagnosed with attention deficit. I would also remind people that we are kidding around," said Shea.

Winnie the Pooh, himself, could benefit from a low-dose stimulant to help him overcome attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), as well as obsessive-compulsive tendencies that include repetitive counting and an insatiable lust for honey.

"Pooh needs intervention. We feel drugs are in order. We cannot help but wonder how much richer Pooh's life might be were he to have a trial of low-dose stimulant medication," the article states.

Pooh demonstrates impulsive behavior, as witnessed by his poorly planned attempt to get honey by disguising himself as a rain cloud, and may eventually develop Tourette's syndrome defined by involuntary body twitching and vocal tics, it states.

The Winnie the Pooh books would have been very different if the characters were prescribed psychoactive drugs, although its uncertain if the series' allure would have been weakened.

"Pooh's poetry is short and he has forgotten a great deal of it," Shea said, adding that "perhaps there would have been an epic from Pooh rather than these little bits of doggerel," if Pooh and his friends were diagnosed using the universally accepted DSM IV Classification system, and medicated accordingly.

Milne wrote his collection of verse for children based on trips to the London Zoo in 1924, a time when psychological disorders were stigmatized and little understood.

It is estimated that 3 percent to 5 percent of all school-age children today suffer from the inability to pay attention and control impulses. The use of drugs such as Ritalin has stirred controversy over whether they are overprescribed to treat their conditions.

"I don't agree with prescribing medications for anybody who is a bit bouncy or day-dreamy," but for Pooh and his friends a mental health clinic is not available, said Shea.

"And what of little piglet? Poor, anxious, blushing, flustered little Piglet. He clearly suffers from a generalized anxiety disorder," wrote the research team.

Piglet could benefit from an anti-panic agent such as paroxetine to save him from "emotional trauma", which he suffers when trying to trap heffalumps, multicolored animals seen in a Winnie the Pooh dream.

Furthermore, Eeyore lives a sad donkey's life, and although it is hard to determine what specific event triggered his chronic negativism and low energy, he would benefit from an antidepressant, a little fluoxetine, and individual therapy so he can "see the humor in the whole tail-losing episode," they wrote.

The researchers also give rather glum assessments of baby Roo, Tigger and Christopher Robin -- the apparent leader of the animal troop in the Hundred Acre Wood -- and conclude that they all could all benefit from a trip to a child development clinic.

Illustrations by E.H. Shepard suggest that Christopher Robin could develop gender identity issues, and the researchers are concerned about his lack of parental supervision and time spent chatting with animals.

The researchers said they are especially worried about baby Roo, who is growing up in a single-parent household and whose closest friend, Tigger, is not a good role model.

"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 thistle," the article said.

Kanga, baby Roo's overprotective mother, is unlikely to become an exceptional and resilient single mother because she lives in a world that places little value on education and provides no female leadership, wrote the researchers.

"It is highly likely that she will end up older, blowsier, struggling to look after several joeys conceived in casual relationships with different fathers, stuck at a dead end with inadequate financial resources," the article opined.

Tigger has a recurrent pattern of risk-taking behavior including the sampling ofhoney, haycorns and thistles on the mildest of provocations, and leads Roo into danger.

It is uncertain whether Tigger would benefit from a stimulant or a combination of a stimulant with hypertension drug clonidine to curb his socially intrusive behavior and thoughtless experimentation of unknown substances, they wrote.

The researchers said they based their psychiatric assessments of the characters on an exhaustive review of A.A. Milne's works, and hope their observations will give the medical community an understanding into the "dark underside" of Winnie the Pooh's

Ian Karleff