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Brody, M. (1976). The Wonderful World of Disney—Its Psychological Appeal. Am. Imago, 33(4):350-360.

(1976). American Imago, 33(4):350-360

The Wonderful World of Disney—Its Psychological Appeal

Michael Brody, M.D.

Introduction

In the fall of 1928, an eager young actor was introduced at a New York movie house to rave reviews. He had protruding ears like Bing Crosby, and a wider mouth than Martha Ray. His voice was high-pitched, yes squeaky. But, of even more significance, he was not even human, but belonged to the rodent family.

Within a relatively short period, this so-called movie star who has been compared with Douglas Fairbanks (1), became the conscience and the symbol of a multimillion dollar corporation, whose influence is not only financially (2) and technologically felt, but has sociological and emotional impact as well. This rodent, Mickey Mouse, represents everyman; whether lover, fire chief, sorcerer, steamboat captain or corporate tycoon, whose empire may include films, real estate, records, toys, books, amusement parks and hotels.

Since 1972, over eleven million people have invaded Orlando, Florida, to visit the new wonder of Western civilization—Disney World. At least that number were already visiting the Magic Kingdom West, here in Anaheim, each year. Millions have seen the mouse that I introduced earlier, and the frustrated duck. Long lines wait to see epics such as “That Darn Cat” and “Mary Poppins.” “The Wonderful World of Disney” is still among the top T. V. shows in ratings.

What is the appeal? And what influence has it had on us and our children? Disney has been studied from an economic, social and architectural (3) perspective; certainly a psychological evaluation is also warranted.

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