Archives for : Mental Health

Disney Heiress Speaks About Family Mental Health Problems

Dr. Abigail Disney is one cool woman.

Dr. Abigail Disney bears a name everyone will recognizes.  Dr. Disney is Roy O. Disney’s granddaughter and the daughter of Roy E. Disney.  Roy O. Disney was Walt’s older brother and ran the business end of the Walt Disney Company.  Without Roy, the company would have sunk deeper than Black Hole and The Lone Ranger (Walt didn’t have a head for business).  Roy E. Disney saved the company’s animation department from being thrown into the legendary Disney vault (By the way, I have it on good authority that there is more than one vault).  While both Roys are praised in Disney history, apparently there were problems in Roy E.’s household.

Dr. Abigail Disney spoke candidly on the Through Her Eyes Podcast about her family’s troubles and wage disparities at the her family’s namesake company.  Listen, read, and watch the story on Yahoo: “‘We Didn’t Feel Safe’: Disney Heiress Describes Violent Childhood.”

When I watched the video, I enjoyed seeing how Dr. Disney resembled her father and grandfather (the shape of her face, nose, and the nice smile). She is an intelligent woman, who spoke tenaciously about wage disparity.  What I focused on in the interview was her family’s mental health.  Her description of her home life is sad, but it didn’t surprise me from what I known about the Disney family history.

Roy O. Disney was abused as a child.

 

What few people want to acknowledge, but is a very true fact is that many mental illnesses and disabilities are hereditary.  If you have any type of abusive household, more than likely your parents learned it/inherited it from their parents and so on and so forth.  Generational abuse when paired with or without mental illness is a vicious cycle that can only be broken with individuals mentally and actively decide to stop it.

 

Roy E. Disney was an alcoholic.

Walt and Roy O. Disney were child abuse victims.  Their father, Elias Disney, physically abused his kids.  Elias had a hard go at making a living and never was successful in any of his business ventures.  There were five Disney children in total and it was hard for Elias to feed them along with his wife and himself.  He managed, but he took his frustrations out on his children.  I read one story (I need to double check where) about how Elias raised his hand to smack Walt for some remark.  Elias hadn’t taken into fact that Walt had grown up and was physically capable of defending himself.  Walt saw his father’s hand come towards him, then he caught it, looked Elias straight in the eye, and said, “No more.”  Elias stopped beating his kids then, but it’s horrible he did it in the first place.

It doesn’t surprise me that Roy E. Disney was an alcoholic.  Judging by what Walt and Roy O. Disney suffered, then what Dr. Disney dealt with in her childhood there’s probably a mental illness gene in the Disney DNA.  Roy senior passed that along to Roy junior, which exhibited itself through alcoholism, rage, and violence.  Dr. Disney did state her father sought help to change, so kudos to Roy E. for being strong enough to make that decision.

Dr. Disney makes intriguing, dramatic documentary films.

According to Walt’s eldest daughter Diane Disney-Miller, who was a huge supporter of Disney scholarship, she and her sister Sharon had a great childhood.  Walt was a loving father and was “simply” dad to them.  Walt had his own demons, including a nervous breakdown when his company started to take off and had a few other episodes later in life.  He was also controlling in the work environment.

Dr. Disney is also a film producer and director.  Her films focus on strong woman, stated as the opposite of the usual Disney Princess trope in the interview.  These films include The Armor of Light and Pray the Devil Back to Hell. 

Considering what appears to be generational mental health issues in the Disney family and Dr. Disney’s focus on telling powerful, real life stories, I’d love for her to make a documentary about mental health.   Somebody contact her and tell her to get on it!