Analysis / The Penguins of Madagascar

Skipper, the Paranoia Guy?

Kowalski, the Narcissist?

If you plan to complain about the terminology, start with the fact that narcissism doesn't make you a bad guy. If you have a little vanity for dessert, the Narcissist has it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but none of the criteria of being so requires them to be cruel, dishonest, or treacherous. And many narcissists have pretty low confidence.

Kowalski is constantly inventing. Always showing off his latest inventions, his singing, his dance moves. It's clear he believes he's the smartest, the best looking, the most skilled. The problem is that he also clearly feels a need to be even better than the best, such as in 'Brain Drain'. He's not perfect, of course. And when it happens that he's not... well, it hits hard.

Rico, the Psychopath?

You're probably going to feel great relief when I say that Skipper's terminology is way off. Rico is not a Psychopath, at least not by psychiatric terms. Psychopaths, like sociopaths, have no empathy, no emotional ties, and no concern for any needs other than their own. While Rico can be disobedient, there is no malice present. You can't factor his regurgitation skills into the diagnosis; it's a physical ability, and Rico can up-chuck almost anything asked of him perfectly safely.

Like it or not, Rico's showing a bunch of the symptoms of Autism - not just low intelligence and poor verbal skills, but also lacking social skills and impulse control. Rico doesn't seem to make new friends as easily as the other penguins - his family is usually his social circle. This is all complicated by his personal area of interest - high explosives. He doesn't blow things up to hurt people - he blows things up to see them blow up. When Skipper shows concern that Rico could as easily hurt himself as other people, it becomes clear that Rico doesn't just need to be controlled; he often needs people to take care of him, because he's not always capable of taking care of himself.

Then there's his 'rampages'. You can have more than one mental disorder at a time, remember? It's worth noting that despite his regular requests for "Ka-Boom?", Rico is usually in command of his own thoughts and actions. It is clarified in "Private And The Winky Factory" that Rico doesn't usually hear voices ("Rico don't talk to imaginary candy-wrapper people!"), which rules out schizophrenia; he probably suffers from Psychosis, with his episodes brought on by emotional stress.

Private, the Sane Man?