I guess we all remember what Twilight Sparkle once said, "All the ponies in this town are CRAZY!" I can see why she might think that. Is she actually right though? Yes, most of the ponies she met are kind of strange, but is there something more to that? Yes, My Little Pony is a children's TV show, but i like to believe that alot of the character, show symptoms of serious mental disorder. It is actually very obvious if you look at it in a certain way. Are the ponies indeed have some form mental illnesses? Let's find out
Ironically, the pony we know most about her psych is the same pony that declares the others crazy -- Twilight Sparkle. Her character throughout the first season and into the second was one that was relatively reclusive, untrusting, and bookish. She felt a huge obligation towards getting things done right, and getting them done on time. These are all symptoms of Avoidant Personality Disorder, a mental imbalance characterized by actively avoiding social contact, out of fear of being ridiculed. People (or in this case, ponies) with AvPD aren't afraid of social interaction, per say; they simply believe they're any good at it, and would just make things bad on themselves and others. They do however generally strive for a social life, which it is shown that Twilight did in fact wish for at the end of the season 1 opener. Victims of AvPD use fantasy or unorthodox habits as a form of escapism, which Twilight exhibits frequently with her profound love for reading and her not-so-slight OCD. Though they are withdrawn, they read a lot into body language and intonation, more often than not coming to a pessimistic conclusion. At first glance, you wouldn't believe Twilight to exhibit this, but she shows it blatantly in Lesson Zero, where she fears that Princess Celestia -- arguably the only pony Twilight trusts completely aside from her brother -- would send her back to Magic Kindergarten. Therefore, it can be concluded that Twilight had been slightly traumatized during her years in Kindergarten, likely the result of bullying and ridicule.
Fluttershy as well shows a fear of social interaction; hers, however, manifests in a rather severe case of what is called Social Anxiety Disorder, or social phobia. Many people assume AvPD and SAD to be one in the same; however there are many specific differences between the two, the main one being that social phobia is an actual fear of social interaction, whereas AvPD is simply an avoidance. The main symptoms of social phobia is a pervasive and consistent fear of talking to, being talked to, or otherwise interacting with a person or persons. There is also a withdrawal from society, sometimes even to the point of hermitry. All of these, Fluttershy has exhibited on more than one occasion (though significantly less in season three). There are also several physical symptoms associated with social phobia, such as blushing, nausea, and stammering -- all of which Fluttershy has at one point or another shown, stammering being extremely prevalent. Panic attacks may also be present; and indeed, Fluttershy has a panic attack when Rainbow Dash pushes her to show how fast she can fly in front of hundreds of other pegasi. It is shown in her cutie mark flashback that she had been bullied throughout her school life, which is one of the more common causes of social phobia. Rainbow Dash's pushy nature might also be a contributing factor, but her loyalty and companionship is one that Fluttershy considers indisposable. In this, she seems to exhibit several symptoms of Dependent Personality Disorder as well. This is reinforced by the fact that comorbidity between Social Anxiety and DPD is relatively common.
The pony that is more often than not considered the craziest is of course Pinkie Pie, the perplexing pretty pink party pony. Her bubbly, energetic personality is a classic case of vivacious subtype of Histrionic Personality Disorder. People with HPD are defined as impulsive, hyperactive, and have a notably low tolerance for negative emotions, even ones not necessarily aimed towards them. Her element, Laughter, is pretty much a light-up sign indicating her intolerance for negative emotions. Victims of HPD have a deep-seeded craving for attention as well, which Pinkie shows rather blatantly in Party Of One. Her spontaneous party throwing can be considered a manifestation of her subconscious need for attention, which is reinforced by her persistance in trying to befriend Cranky Doodle (even to the point of breaking into his house). A possible cause of her mental deficiency is familial abuse. Having grown up on a rock farm and working day-in and day-out as a mere child undoubtedly poses severe mental health problems.
The dysfunction termed Hypomania is characterized by a larger-than-life self-image, racing thoughts, and dangerous activity -- all of which can be used to describe one Rainbow Dash, arguably the loudest and most self-possessed pony in Ponyville. A major indicator for hypomania is what is called psychomotor agitation, a reflexive need to move. This is often characterized by restlessness when sitting still, pacing, or biting lips. In Rainbow Dash's case, hovering or extending and retracting her wings are strong indicators of psychomotor agitation. She also exhibits extremely dangerous activity on a daily basis, pushing herself to the brink of her ability to perform death-defying tricks and one day ultimately join the Wonderbolts, a famous team of expert stunt pegasi. Rainbow has a major egocentric personality, continually places herself higher on the pedestal than others; however, she wouldn't hesitate to help her close friends, even to the point of her giving up her dreams in order to help them in a time of need. This lends to the opinion that her hypomania is in no way destructive, except for her edge-of-the-seat lifestyle, and in fact has a positive effect on her and the people surrounding her.
Applejack is a hard character to describe, much less diagnose. She's a hard-worker who hates handing the reigns over to anyone else, she never censors herself, and loves to help others who are in need. In this, she seems rather sane, but if you squint really hard you can see that she seems to exhibit several characteristics of Self-defeating Personality Disorder (aka Masochistic Personality Disorder). She deliberately puts herself in harms way throughout the series: Applebuck Season, where she decides to harvest the entire apple orchard by herself; The Last Roundup, where she moves out of town to get a better paying job so as to raise money and fix town hall; and Spike At Your Service, where she saves Spike not only from a pack of hungry timberwolves, but also a giant timberwolf at the end of the episode. She even went so far as to walk all the way around a mountain with another pony on her back, simply because said pony was too scared to climb it herself. This show of altruism definitely points towards a virtuous form of MPD, but she shows a complete lack of the feelings of deserved gratitude. This loans to somewhat oppresive tendencies, since she expresses genuine feelings towards everyone and everything (she is the element of Honesty, afterall), even if those feelings are negative. However, she doesn't have the self-pitiable nature that commonly accompanies the oppresive subtype; this could possibly be due to her altruistic tendencies.
The final character we are going to go over is the element of Generosity, Rarity. She, like Applejack, is more than willing to sacrifice her time, money, body parts, etc., on other people without hesitation. Unlike Applejack, however, she is willing to gloss over unsavory comments, instead favoring to soften the blow. She has a tendency to overreact to situations and she is a professional "whiner". On several occasions she's shown to place other people before her lifelong dreams, notably in Green Isn't Your Color, where she would rather help Fluttershy become supermodel than for Rarity to become a world-famous fashion designer. She appears to exhibit characters not unlike the appeasing subtype of Histrionic Personality Disorder. Whereas Pinkie Pie's vivacious HPD focused more on being hyperactive and neurotic, Rarity's appeasing HPD focuses more on brushing away bad emotions, instead focusing on giving unto others and making them happy, as a way to avoid dealing with her own problems. The main difference between appeasing HPD and virtuous Masochistic Personality Disorder -- which we went over with Applejack -- is that there is no feelings of deservation with HPD, and there is no repressing of emotions with MPD. Self-sacrifice is a hugely defining symptom of appeaseful HPD, and Rarity's entire being is dedicated to such. This might seem like nothing but a benefit to others, however it can be extremely detrimental to the victim of the illness. Repressed emotions can cause serious health risks, and given the selfless nature of those exhibiting it, the risks might go unheeded.
I think it is safe to assume that Twilight was right in her statement that all the ponies were indeed, "crazy". But we attach too many negative connotations to that word; a more accurate word -- and one that would sound less negative -- would be "disturbed". This is a very unique show, in more ways than one. We've had The Big Lebowski ponified, we've had government conspiracies, we've had international espionage -- If you ask me, it's not too surprising that we also have mental deficiencies.