Disney Villains – Evil or Ill?

Rebecca Anhalt Mental Health Musings Leave a Comment

Growing up, I loved to watch Disney movies. To be honest, I still love the magic of fairy tales from time to time. The stories were always pleasantly simple. There was a good guy, a sidekick, a few musical numbers, and a villain.

It was so easy to hate the villain and cheer for the heroes, but without the villains, the heroes really didn’t have much of a purpose. Without villains, heroes may never rise to the challenge to defeat them. Villains were a necessary evil. But were the villains in our beloved stories really evil? Or were they mentally ill?

I have compiled a list of villains, and potential illnesses they could have suffered from. So let’s start with Cinderella’s step mother, Lady Tremaine.

Lady Tremaine: Schizoid Personality Disorder

Schizoid Personality Disorder is characterized by an indifference towards others and a diminished range of emotion. They often appear cold and distant, and prefer social isolation. If you remember, Lady Tremaine certainly had no warm fuzzy feelings for Cinderella, but she seems just as cold to her own daughters. She uses them to gain status by marrying Prince Charming, just as she uses Cinderella to clean her house. 

Gaston (Beauty and the Beast): Narcissistic Personality Disorder

Narcissistic Personality Disorder is characterized by grandiosity, a need for admiration, and an inability to empathize with others. This description is so clearly Gaston! He romantically pursued Belle, not because he loved her, but because she could make him look good. When she turned down his marriage proposal, he wasn’t upset because his heart was broken, he was upset that she humiliated him in front of his adoring masses. He went so far to obtain his prized possession, that he had Belle’s father committed to an asylum, locked her in her basement, and tried to kill the Beast she actually cared for. There was even a musical number about how great Gaston is!

Jafar (Aladdin): Schizotypal Personality Disorder

Schizotypal Personality Disorder is characterized by odd thought patterns, bizarre fantasies, magical or superstitious thinking, and emotional detachment. Jafar’s raison d’être was to become all-powerful! He was obsessed with obtaining a magic lamp that held a wish-granting genie. He had no emotional attachment to the family he was employed by for several years. He sacrificed Aladdin’s life to obtain the lamp, he allowed Iago to torture the Sultan with stale crackers, and tried to kill Jasmine.

Scar (The Lion King): Antisocial Personality Disorder

Antisocial Personality Disorder is characterized by a pattern of disregard for the rights of others, irritability, aggression, reckless behavior, no remorse, and an inability to perform family or work responsibilities. This disorder is commonly referred to as sociopathic or psychopathic behavior. Scar’s master plan to kill his brother and nephew to become King, was the epitome of psychopathic. Even after his plan played out, and he believed Simba to be dead, he showed absolutely no remorse and was also incapable of performing the duties of King. During Scar’s rule, the pride lands became devastated and barren.

Yzma (Emperor’s New Groove): Borderline Personality Disorder

Borderline Personality Disorder is characterized by instability in mood and interpersonal relationships. They are often seen to be manipulative, temperamental, moody, angry, and overly negative. They have a deep-seated fear of being abandoned. They also suffer from identity disturbances where they can shift dramatically from viewing themselves in an overly positive way (overestimating their strengths) to viewing themselves in an overly negative way (focusing solely on their negative features). Yzma’s mood shifted dramatically throughout the movie, from elation to despair, and she experienced several instances of intense anger. When she was fired from the empire, her fear of abandonment kicked in, and she plotted to kill Kuzco. Her hired help changed from decade to decade, which enabled her to maintain control over her interpersonal relationships. She was aware of her dependence on Kronk, but this fact did not keep her from being demanding or cruel to him.

Captain Hook (Peter Pan): Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

PTSD is characterized by re-experiencing trauma, avoidance of anything that is associated with the trauma, and increased anxiety when presented with any trigger or reminder of the traumatic event. Captain Hook clearly was traumatized by the loss of his hand to a crocodile with a ticking clock in its belly. Anytime Hook heard a ticking clock, he would devolve into a full-blown panic attack. 


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Rebecca Anhalt is a Positive Power Coach for women stifled by anxiety and self-doubt who want to live fearless and purposeful lives. She helps them to unlock their inner hero by teaching them mental and emotional mastery so they can unleash their unique power, reach their goals, and live fully.

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