Okay, so you guys know I love Harry Potter! Yeah, your right it's probably more than love, if I am honest I probably borderline obsess!
That's not necessarily a bad thing! I mean it's a great series of books and films with great plots, characters but most importantly great themes! I was contemplating doing a blog post about important themes discussed in Harry Potter but then I deiced that I should go more in depth about one of those themes in particular!
That theme being mental health! I have a massive thing for removing the stigma around mental health! It just doesn't need to be there! It's 2016 guys, come on! One of the most fantastic ways that this stigma can be Broken is through an initiative, creatives means! One of those being fiction!
I am fully aware that Harry Potter isn't new but I strongly believe that Harry Potter covers the topic exponentially well and, therefore, is what I am going to base this post around!
Now, when I Googled around prior to writing this post about Harry Potter and mental health, a number of articles come up with theories that claim the whole Harry Potter storyline was based on a ' crazy' young boy placed in a mental asylum called Hogwarts! Now whoever wrote this went to considerable lengths to find any connection they could between the stories and films with mental health- some more convincing than others, I have to admit!
However, this post is not going to be about that article, in fact, I just want to highlight some of the mental illnesses that are clearly visible within the series and how they are portrayed both in the books and films!
Firstly, to me one of the most prominent mental health issues that are shown throughout the books and films especially in the order of the phoenix and onwards is post-traumatic stress disorder! Harry goes through a lot in this life. He relives horrible events that have happened to him but even more so after he witnessed the death of Cedric Diggory and then the death of Dumbledore!
Harry constantly battles with intrusive and overwhelming flashbacks and mental images of what really happened on those tragic nights! For most normal, nonfictional people the observation of a tragic and traumatic experience like a death is a life changing and sometimes debilitating experience that shapes them often for the worse!
Having a sense of normality and order in your life stripped from you within what could only be a matter of minutes or even seconds must be so hard beyond what anyone could ever imagine!
Even the great Harry Potter who hasn't exactly lead a normal life is shown to be experiencing great lows and episodes of PTSD. Imagine how someone in the real world must be feeling going through this kind of ordeal!
Another aspect that is quite prominent within the Harry Potter series in relation to mental health is obsessive and compulsive behaviour.
In the first film, you see Harry obsessed over 'The mirror of Erised' in the first film he is seen to be returning to mirror every night because it shows Harry his parents who are dead.
Harry becomes transfixed and disillusioned by this idea! He soon starts to become obsessed with the concept of this mirror and the idea that it can bring back the dead. So much so that he spends nights and nights in front of it! It distorts his normal brain functions and way of thinking! It gives him an element of control! He becomes obsessed with it, which is very identifiable characteristic of many mental health conditions.
Harry Potter doesn't exactly have a normal life does he! To coincide with this abnormal life, I believe he displays lots of other mental illness traits throughout his period at Hogwarts.
His frequent disillusion that he can conquer everything, save the world, beat Lord Voldemort ALONE, often convey very similar emotions and behaviours that are seen in bipolar disorders. These periods of mania are often followed with large amounts of pain, Sorrow and sadness!
Harry's life is just this never ending story of pain and loss of loved ones and people close to his heart. His life is filled in constant battle, fighting evil- being both mentally and physically exhausting! These continuous expectations from birth as 'The boy that lived' with this overriding pressure to meet these unrealistic expectations of him! I think it's safe to say that depression is something that Harry Potter and many of the other characters would have faced within the books due to their chaotic and extreme life's!
In the half blood prince, Draco shows periods of mental instability. Having this massive life or death responsibility placed on his shoulders. It's no wonder he is shown to be going kind of paranoid and insane in the girls bathroom. Not to mention when it actually comes to carry out the dreadful dead, he is in no fit state, his mind a blur, a disillusion between what's good and what's evil!
So here's just a few thoughts on mental health converge within fiction! I personally believe that Harry Potter covers it really well and there is a lot that other authors can take from this series!
Do you disagree with any of my points!? Did you spot anything I didn't mention?! Let me know in the comments below!!
Thank you for reading, as always x