On Harry Potter

Harry Potter and the Magic of Transformation

By Laurie J. Pahel

Hope for transformation abounds. With every step in development there is the push toward growth and alteration. Infants become less attached to their mother. Children yearn to fill their parents’ shoes. Maturing individuals feel compelled to seek education, credentials, new relationships, and possessions. Such achievements may fail to provide lasting satisfaction or relief; the remedies often prove to be superficial and easily overpowered.

Who desires an extreme conversion or a simple transformation? Neurotic individuals struggling with conflict at work and home. Traumatized people afraid to trust anyone. Delusional patients looking to escape their internal enemies. Harry Potter fleeing to wizardry school. Yes, Harry Potter–the adolescent of J. K. Rowling’s creation who has pitched this high-tech society into frenzied excitement over real paper-and-ink books. There must be some reason that Harry Potter has obtained such wide appeal. Like most important issues, the explanation for Harry’s popularity is multi-faceted. Psychoanalytic principles may be helpful in examining this phenomenon. Harry Potter himself deserves psychoanalytic exploration.

Entering psychoanalysis, in fact, may appear to the ordinary person (Muggle) as magical and outrageous a feat as gaining admission to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Who on earth would enter into a treatment that required one to attend appointments four to five times a week over many years, to trust a previously unknown professional with one’s innermost thoughts, to remember and discuss dreams as if they were important, and to pay money for this so-called privilege? It sounds an awful lot like going to Hogwarts to learn magic.  …

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