5 Syndromes or Complexes Named After Storybook Characters
Remember those bedtime stories that were read to you as a kid, and those Disney movies you watched? Turns out, there are some real psychological disorders and personality types that get their names from those characters.
1. Peter Pan Syndrome
Peter Pan is the boy who won’t grow up. Does that accurately describe a person in your life? If so, they may have Peter Pan Syndrome. It’s not a syndrome officially recognized by the World Health Organization, but some studies have shown that it does exist. It’s characterized by emotional immaturity and an unwillingness to take on responsibilities. It is more common in men than in women (who can suffer from “Wendy Syndrome,” i.e., acting like mothers to their partners and others).
2. Sleeping Beauty Syndrome
Sleeping Beauty is the story of a 16 year old girl who pricks her finger on a spinning wheel and falls into a deep sleep, only to be woken by a prince’s kiss years later. Real life Sleeping Beauties might suffer from Klene-Levin Syndrome, a rare neurological disorder characterized by periods of excessive sleep and altered behavior. During an episode, the patient becomes very drowsy and sleeps for the majority of the day and night. They will only wake up to eat or go to the bathroom. These episodes can last up to months at a time, inhibiting the ability to work or go to school.
3. Rapunzel Syndrome
“Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair!” Just don’t eat it. Rapunzel Syndrome is an intestinal condition that results from people eating hair, a disorder known as trichophagia. They swallow so much that, over the course of years, the hair accumulates, resulting in a giant hair ball in the stomach or small intestine called a trichobezoar. Occasionally, this mass can wrap around organs and cause perforations. People can’t digest human hair, so the trichobezoar must be removed surgically. Rapunzel Syndrome is very rare, and only about 24 cases have been reported. If you’ve got a weak stomach, I don’t suggest looking up pictures of the hair ball. (Seriously. Don’t do it.)
4. Bambi Complex
Bambi, the cute little deer whose mother got shot and killed, is also the namesake of this other not-officially-recognized complex. People affected by the Bambi Complex are very sentimental and sympathetic towards wildlife and wild animals. They usually have very strong feelings against hunting, controlled fires, and any other inhumane treatment of animals, especially the cute ones like deer.
5. Cinderella Complex
Ah, Cinderella. She’s stuck cooking and cleaning for her stepmother and stepsisters while they are off having a ball at … a ball. A person, typically a woman, with Cinderella Complex is very dependent on men for emotional and financial purposes. This complex is also characterized by the desire to be swept off her feet and saved by a Prince Charming. This isn’t officially recognized as a psychological disorder—the term was coined in 1981 by Collette Downing, who wrote The Cinderella Complex: Women’s Hidden Fear of Independence—but can help some women to understand why they feel the way they do.
Lauren Baker attends Brescia University College at Western University.
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