Yes, you read that headline correctly. The spunky, sassy Jessie does indeed have a panic attack in Toy Story 2. Wait! But where, you say? As a kid, I loved Jessie and watched her closely throughout the movie. There’s one scene, however, where Jessie completely crumbles and shatters that friendly, adventurous personality fans know well––the moment when Stinky Pete tells her to jump into the box and Jessie says, “No! I don’t want to go back into storage!”
At that time, I thought Jessie just became incredibly sad and frightened. However, now that I’m much older and have battled panic disorder, I instantly realized Jessie had a panic attack! No, I’m not saying she struggles with anxiety, but yes, she definitely did have a panic attack.
Don’t believe me? View this clip. (Sorry for the quality––it was the only one I could find).
Jessie does pretty much exactly what I do when I have panic attacks: her eyes widen, she hyperventilates, sits down, holds her head in her hands, and tears up as she covers her eyes. I’ve definitely been there and done that.
While I broke this down, I also noticed something else––Jessie most likely suffered trauma when she sat in a dark, cold box in storage. That’s why she had a panic attack––she couldn’t bear the same claustrophobic, suffocating, lonely environment she spent so much time in. Anxiety is actually a symptom of trauma, so it’s not too far-fetched. For Jessie, it felt like the world crashed and burned right there.
So, you see, not even Disney characters are perfect. Their imperfections can actually, in a way, help us understand ourselves better.