​Scientists Reveal Disney Films Have A Dark Psychological Side Effect

Scientist have discovered that Disney films have a pretty dark psychological side effect as they help young children process and deal with grief.

Although that might sound a bit morbid for a Disney film, it is actually extremely beneficial for young viewers as they can used as a conversation starter for difficult topics like death.

When you think of a Disney film, the first thing you might think they all have in common is that they all have a happily-ever-after, but what you might not realise is they all tackle the issue of death.

Now we might touch on a few upsetting memories from your childhood here.

Scientists found that characters are more than twice as likely to die in films for children. (Credit: Disney)
Scientists found that characters are more than twice as likely to die in films for children. (Credit: Disney)

Remember when Bambi's mum was shot by the hunter, or when Claude Frollo was dropped from the rooftops of Notre Dame by a demon-eyed gargoyle in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and we still cry when Simba desperately tries to wake Mufasa.

A new study published in OMEGA - Journal of Death and Dying found that characters are more than twice as likely to die in films for young viewers than in films aimed at adults.

However, being exposed to death as a young child actually has some pretty good benefits.

Most Disney films tackle the issue of death. (Credit: Disney)
Most Disney films tackle the issue of death. (Credit: Disney)

As study leader Professor Kelly Tenzek explains: "These films can be used as conversation starters for difficult and what are oftentimes taboo topics like death and dying.

"These are important conversations to have with children, but waiting until the end of life is way too late and can lead to a poor end-of-life experience."

Tenzek adds that the deaths in Disney films can actually help children relate to death and to process their feelings of grief in a healthy way.

Scientists say it can help open up a conversation about death and grief. (Credit: Disney)
Scientists say it can help open up a conversation about death and grief. (Credit: Disney)

She said: "We believe Disney and Pixar films are popular and accessible for children and adults so a difficult conversation can begin in a less threatening way earlier in life.

"We acknowledge a child's psychological development is important when considering these discussions.

"It's not our intent to have these conversations with a three-year-old, but as children mature, then the films fit naturally into that growth."

Featured Image Credit: Disney

Bethany Gleave

Bethany Gleave is a Freelance Journalist at PRETTY52 and joined the team in 2018. She is a Multimedia Journalism graduate from the University of Salford, and started her career at a national press agency, writing breaking and trending news for the national newspapers.

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