On Harry Potter

Mental Illness in the World of Wizardry

By Jessica Leigh Murakami

When Harry Potter first learns that he is a wizard, he hears his Aunt Petunia call his mother a “‘freak’” (Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone 53). Aunt Petunia then goes on to summarize her sister’s short life and to insult Harry with the following statement:

“Then she met that Potter at school and they left and got married and had you, and of course I knew you’d be just the same, just as strange, just–as–abnormal–and then, if you please, she went and got herself blown up and we got landed with you!” (Sorcerer’s Stone 53).

In Aunt Petunia’s world (made up almost entirely of her spoiled son, Dudley), her sister does not belong. Yet in the wizarding world, Harry’s mother discovers a hidden talent in Potions class, finds a cocky and talented future husband, and develops the courage it will take to one day stand between Lord Voldemort and her infant son. Although her sister considers her a “freak,” Lily Evans Potter becomes a heroic figure in the world of wizardry, just as Harry becomes our hero.

What does it mean to be “abnormal”? Clearly, someone ceases to be abnormal when he is surrounded with people (or wizards) just like him. Oftentimes, we describe people who are outside of the norm as “freaks,” “weirdos,” and “misfits,” but we might also describe them as “brilliant” and “amazing” depending on how we view their abnormalities. For example, someone with an extremely high

I.Q. may be described as “freakishly smart” and viewed with admiration. However,  …

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