On Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Resilience of Adversity
The wizarding world celebrates Harry Potter as the miraculous “Boy Who Lived” (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 1). Wizards and Muggles alike, however, should marvel at Harry, for despite the traumas, abuse, and neglect that Harry suffers as a child, he lives normally. His physical, social, academic, and behavioral functioning are average to extraordinary. Just as Muggles don’t see the Leaky Cauldron because they don’t look, it’s easy to miss how extraordinary Harry’s ordinariness is. Consider that Harry and Lord Voldemort are connected by a prophecy but not by a trajectory: both are nurturance-starved orphans, but only Lord Voldemort is unable to form loving bonds with others, and only Lord Voldemort seeks to use his magical powers to exact pain, death, and retribution. In this essay, we will examine what accounts for the miracle of Harry Potter–not the Avada Kedavra-defying Boy Who Lived, but the mal-treatment-resilient Boy Who Lives.
The Unforgivable Dursleys: Emotional Maltreatment and Neglect
The Dursleys’ treatment of Harry during his childhood and adolescence is characterized by both types of child maltreatment: abuse and neglect (see Table 1). The Dursleys’ emotional maltreatment of Harry has been the most pronounced. Emotional abuse is defined as a non-physical behavior (or, most commonly, a series of behaviors) by a parent or caregiver that causes the child psychological harm or has a high potential for causing psychological harm (e.g., depression, anxiety disorder, undermined sense of self-worth). Emotional neglect involves withholding emotional nurturance, support, or bonding necessary for normal child development. The common result …