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Harry Potter and mental illness



I was reading an article yesterday about JK Rowling and her new book (I think it is out tomorrow?). The article was saying that she started writing the Harry Potter books after suffering a major bout of chronic depression. It then suddenly occurred to me just how many references to mental illness and emotional struggle there are in the HP books. 


I've always thought the Dementors were the most vivid and powerful analogy for depression - down to the fact that positive feelings repel them! But then there is Neville Longbottom's parents and even the fact that Sirius Black's animagus was a big black dog! 


Can anyone think of any other references to mental illness and depression in the books? And did reading the books help you realise that you were not the only one that gets swarmed by dementors every now and then? It certainly did for me. 




Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

I haven't read the books, but from the HP movies I have seen, I can see that now...
Maybe I should try and read the books?

Remember you're amazing just as you are Heart

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

The bloody Baron killing himself after murdering Rowna Ravenclaw out of anger 

The thestrals and how only people who have seen death could see them- grief process?

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

@Bee there is so much hype about the books, but I reckon they are wonderful. And from an adult perspective, if the first two seem a bit boring, go straight to Book 3, that's when it really starts to become amazing and a bit more emotionally complex.

@Shadow - Yeah the thestrals - wow I had forgotten about them. They were both morbid and beautiful. And yes, i agree, very much a symbol of grief.

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

I live the Harry Potter books, the movies just don't compare.

I think I have heard that dementors describe what depression feels like as JK Rowling has had depression but haven't thought of the other ones.

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

hmmmm. this is really interesting. i LOVE this series and have read it close to a billion times and have never thought of it in this way. But you are totally right. Smiley Happy the dementors, the balck dog (sirius), thestrals, bloody baron, etc. wow. 


I mean Harry's struggle is always really obvious, you know how in the second book he doesnt think that anyone gets him and withdraws from his friends, etc (dont know about you but i totally do this when i am depressed) and so on and so forth; but i hadnt really picked up on the other stuff....


@Cas - i agree times a billion. the movies just do NOT compare


@Bee - darling you must read them! they rock the socks off everyother book on the planet. (im my opnion anyway)

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

My childhood could be summed up in 2 words: Harry Potter. My Grandmother would read them to me and would see the movies with me... Even after I was able to read them myself, I'd still sit and listen to her reading them. Ah, the good times... Smiley Happy 

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

Rowling has admitted that the dementors were inspired by a dream she had at age thirteen, but that they were developed as a physical representation of depression. I think the fact that their effect is feeling like you will never be happy again is pretty familiar to most of us who have suffered from depression.


I read a theory a while ago that the Harry Potter books take place entirely in Harry's mind. Creating fictional worlds in a surprisingly common coping mechanism for kids who are being abused. Notice that while other children at Hogwarts get send to the hospital wing for things like growing fur, or eating a pound of doxie eggs, Harry goes for injuries like a cracked skull, or broken arm. Is it possible that Hogwarts is just Harry's way of coping with the torment he receives from his aunt and uncle? 

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

wow, that's an interesting theory, Bella! I had never thought of it that way myself.

I think the best thing about books is that you can 'read' into them whatever you wish - regardless of what the author felt or where they drew the inspiration from. We all get something different out of all books Smiley Very Happy

Re: Harry Potter and mental illness

No wonder there's a uni course dedicated to HP, with all the theories that are possible! Smiley Happy