9 Cartoon Characters and Their Psychiatric Diagnoses
1. Charlie Brown: Avoidant Personality Disorder
The disorder: According to Medline Plus, “People with this disorder cannot stop thinking about their own shortcomings. They form relationships with other people only if they believe they will not be rejected. Loss and rejection are so painful that these people choose to be lonely rather than risk trying to connect with others.”
The diagnosis: Though lovable and endearing, Charlie Brown has gone undiagnosed for far too long. His many “psychiatric help” sessions with Lucy beg us to question his psyche. People with Avoidant Personality Disorder think obsessively about their own shortcomings. Though seemingly optimistic, Charlie is often dominated by his insecurities and overwhelmed by his “terrible case of bad luck.” He constantly feels like people are picking on him, even when they are not, and this, in turn, affects his ability to become close friends with people, in fear of being rejected.
2. Glenn Quagmire: Sex Addiction
The disorder: Sexual addiction is a persistent and escalating pattern or patterns of sexual behaviors acted out despite increasingly negative consequences to self or others. While technically not recognized by the DSM-V, sex addiction is recognized by both the American Society of Addiction Medicine and the World Health Organization (WHO).
The diagnosis: Quagmire is the source of mostly every perverted plot line of family guy. I recall one disturbing episode in which his addiction got him in such a sticky situation he ended up marrying a 60-year-old prostitute and then felt compelled to have sex with Peter Griffin in order to prove to his new wife that he was gay and needed a divorce. Glen even goes as far as trying to seduce both Lois and Meg Griffen, his best friend’s wife and daughter. I’d say those are fairly negative consequences. His creepy “Giggity, giggity, giggity” catch phrase does not help the situation.
3. Helga Pataki: Bipolar Disorder
The disorder: According to the NIMH, “bipolar disorder, also known as manic-depressive illness, is a brain disorder that causes unusual shifts in mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks.”
The diagnosis: Helga is somewhat of a tomboy choosing to portray a tough exterior – she even names her fists “Old Betsy” and “The Five Avengers”. She is the school bully (note: punching Brainy repeatedly) and the first one to designate oh-so-endearing nicknames to her fellow classmates, the most notorious of which is “football head.” Yet Helga is also the first one to overreact to times of stress, her most famous catchphrase being, “We’re all gonna die!!!” These manic outbreaks combined with her shrine to Arnold in her bedroom closet have led me to this diagnosis. Oh, plus this quote doesn’t help her out: “”How I love you…and yet I hate you…and yet I love you…and yet I hate you…and yet I love you.”
4. Ariel, The Little Mermaid: Disposophobia (Hoarding)
The disorder: The DSM-V described disposophobia as the chronic difficulty of throwing things away due to an attachment to one’s objects. People who suffer from disposophobia often also have difficulty organizing their things.
The diagnosis: I mean, have you seen Ariel’s cave? (See: Ariel’s dinglehopper).
5. Spongebob Square Pants: Williams-Beuren Syndrome
The disorder: According to WebMD, “Williams syndrome is a disorder in development that usually results in learning problems, attention deficit disorder, anxiety, and phobias but affected individuals have outgoing personalities.”
The diagnosis: One of the most notable personality symptoms of WBS is a person’s extreme interest in meeting new people and an unusual trust or closeness they feel for that person. I actually recently watched an episode of Law and Order, SVU in which a young girl with WBS was put on the witness stand to act as a witness to her mother’s murder (jesus, c’mon, really?) and the first thing she did was ask the judge if she could hug her. People with WBS, though extremely friendly, can also be extremely awkward and exhibit symptoms of extreme ADHD – basically, spongebob in a nutshell. As an aside, people with WBS often have low muscle mass, which also happens to be a regular challenge of Spongebob’s.
6. Chuckie Finster: Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The disorder: According to the NIMH, “Generalized Anxiety Disorder is diagnosed when a person worries excessively about a variety of everyday problems for at least 6 months.”
The diagnosis: From Chuckie’s extreme fear of sandboxes after being explained the meaning of the word “germ” to his belief that a watermelon was growing in his stomach after swallowing a watermelon seed, Chuck is just a big ball of worry. If I remember correctly there was actually even a point in the series in which his dear friend Tommy Pickles takes him to a “big kid” named “Suzie” who exposes Chuckie to slides to address his fear of heights and blows air in his face to expose him to the sensation of moving at rapid speeds. Some call this “playing,” I call it “cognitive behavioral therapy.”
7. Timmy Turner: Schizophrenia
The disorder: “Children with schizophrenia often see or hear things that do not really exist, and harbor paranoid and bizarre beliefs.”
The diagnosis: Don’t get me wrong, I love me some “Fairly Odd Parents,” despite Timmy’s annoyingly shrill voice. When I was 10 (maybe older, don’t judge me.) Cosmo and Wonda were endearing – “Silly Cosmo and Wanda starting fires, turning Vicky into a baby, extinguishing the dinosaurs,” I would say. When I take a look at these plots it has become apparent that it may actually be Timmy who is hurting people and blaming his pet fish. This is not a case of imaginary friends. Imaginary friends understand that their friends are imaginary. Childhood schizophrenics believe that their imaginary friends (fairy godparents) are real and impact the world in some real way. Yeah, take that in for a second.
8. Mr. Krabs: Covetous Psychopathy
The disorder: Feels intentionally denied and deprived; rapacious, begrudging, discontentedly yearning; envious, seeks retribution, and avariciously greedy; pleasure more in taking than in having.
The diagnosis: Mr. Krab’s only goal in life is to make money and he will stop at nothing to achieve that goal. He often charges his employees instead of paying them and even went as far as selling Spongebob to The Flying Deucheman for a few cents.
9. Stewie Griffin: Oppositional Defiant Disorder
The disorder: A childhood disorder described by the DSM as an ongoing pattern of anger-guided disobedience, hostility, and defiant behavior toward authority figures that goes beyond the bounds of normal childhood behavior.
The diagnosis: Stewie is the very definition of defiant. His animosity towards his loving and caring mother combined with his violent outbreaks make this diagnosis a clear one. Stewie is violent, spiteful and vindictive, all of which point to ODD. Though the plots involving his character are always entertaining, it was definitely painful watching Stewie repeatedly beat up Brian.
TBT: Originally published 8/26/14